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Nickel Creek's virtual "Livecreek Experience" streams, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Monday, February 22, 2021

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Good news for Nickel Creek fans is that the trio is headed to Santa Barbara, Calif., to do some writing for a new album.

Even better -- it's going to stream a couple of concerts, too.

It's been seven years since Chris Thile and siblings Sean and Sara Watkins released their last album, "A Dotted Line" -- which in itself was Nickel Creek's first new set in nine years. Though not a full-time concern anymore while the three have pursued other endeavors, the group is still alive and happy to stick its head up every now and again.

Nickel Creek is promising the two Sunday shows, Feb. 21 and 28, will be entirely different, drawing primarily from the four albums it's released since 2000, with a few surprises sure to be thrown in...

• Sean Watkins says by phone that the pandemic that forced so many other plans to be scratched creating an opportunity for Nickel Creek to get together once more. "Since none of us are doing anything road-wise, we thought we'd use this time off to get some future Nickel Creek writing down for our next project, whenever that will be. We figured we'd hole up somewhere, which we’re gonna do at a friend's house in Santa Barbara, and then we thought since we're going to be together we should do a livestream."

• Watkins -- Nickel Creek's oldest member at 43 -- says that for the first performance the trio may focus on its Alison Krauss-produced 2000 album, which turned 20 last year. "We've talked about maybe plying the whole thing in sequence, so we'll see. I think Chris' joke was, 'Well, it's not the 20th anniversary, but we can celebrate the album being of drinking age...' After 20, 21 years it's fun to look back as the different people we've grown to be. We've done maybe half the songs consistently over the years, but there's two, three, four songs we maybe haven't played since maybe 2002 or something."

• What would Watkins tell those younger kids who made the "Nickel Creek" album all those years ago? "I would just maybe say 'Keep doing what you're doing.' Part of the joy of that time, and I think maybe what gave us the inspiration to do it was just how naive we were about everything, just our innocent way of looking at the world and the entertainment industry -- that sort of 'anything's possible' mentality we had. The world seemed very open and unrestricted. We didn't know this could be a lifetime, our career. I don't have any regrets. We just wanted to do the best music we could, and I'm happy with how it turned out."

• Watkins says he'll be taking a cache of new song ideas into the writing sessions and expects his sister and Thile will have material prepared as well. "I think we all have song starts, but I think we all agree that the more exciting thing is to start from scratch. If that doesn't work we can kind of go back and see what we have. I have a bunch of songs that are, like, a verse and a chorus and have to be fleshed out. But the last Nickel Creek record just happened very spontaneously. Every time you write with someone it's like doing it for the first time; You're remembering how to collaborate, in that way. It's very mystical. It's hard to say how it happens."

• The Watkins released a Watkins Family Hour album last year and have been playing livestream concerts every other Thursday, while Thile put out a set with the all-star Goat Rodeo band and started a series of masterclasses online. Sara Watkins' new solo album ("Under the Pepper Tree," March 26), while Sean says that he's "always working on stuff," including a duo album with drummer Matt Chamberlin as the Bee Eaters, which came out last year. "I'm working on another album, too, and always writing and working on things. I don't have a record coming, like Sara does, but there's stuff around so who knows.

Nickel Creek presents "Nickel Stream: A Livecreek Experience" at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21 and Feb. 28. Tickets start at $25 via watch.mandolin.com.

Web Site: www.watch.mandolin.com

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