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Move To New York City Renews Chris Thile's Passion For Bluegrass

By Sugar Hill Records
July 13, 2006 - 2:30 pm

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Chris Thile

Chris Thile

At 25, Chris Thile has accomplished more than most-2 million albums sold with Grammy-winning Nickel Creek, six solo albums (the first at the age of 12), a side career as an in-demand studio musician, and collaborations with Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck and Jon Brion. But ultimately, moving to New York was the catalyst that reminded Thile as to how and why he started playing the mandolin in the first place. And, it's where he brought together a new-generation bluegrass band to record How To Grow A Woman From The Ground to be released on Sugar Hill September 12, 2006.

It's telling that when Thile moved to the city, on the heels of divorce and in the middle of working on the third Nickel Creek album, he sought the comfort of the familiar. The acclaimed musician began dropping in on a weekly bluegrass jam at The Baggot Inn in Greenwich Village and began a solo residency at The Living Room, where he worked out new material and invented new takes on older songs.

"For me, at least, New York demands that you find what it is about you that's unique. There are so many talented people-exceptional people-that to stand out, you either have to be completely average or really, really different," Thile explains. "And having been trained in the ways of bluegrass as a kid, I realized how much that meant to me. I felt, you can't fight yourself; any time you're fighting yourself, you might not lose, but you just can't win. And I realized, I do that well, because that's what I grew up with. So it signifies a return of sorts; I'm realizing what a meaningful part of my life that music is."

Thile called upon a cadre of similarly accomplished, young and talented friends to build the band—Gabe Witcher, Noam Pikelny, Chris Eldridge, and Greg Garrison. They camped out in his one-bedroom apartment in weeklong rehearsal and writing sessions. With Thile as the producer, the five recorded the album in live takes around a pair of microphones at famed Sear Sound Recording Studios.

How To Grow A Woman From The Ground is a raw mix of original compositions, and inventive takes from disparate sources such as The White Stripes, Jimmie Rodgers, The Strokes, and Gillian Welch. "I had the record sequenced and planned before we went in," says Thile. "I saw a challenge in trying to tell at least a subconsciously coherent story."

Watch 'at Breakdown
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Stay Away
O Santo De Polvora
Wayside/Back In Time
You're an Angel, and I'm Gonna Cry
How To Grow a Woman From the Ground
The Beekeeper
If the Sea Was Whiskey
Brakeman's Blues
Heart in a Cage
I'm Yours If You Want Me
The Eleventh Reel

Thile and band will be performing at New York's Bowery Ballroom on August 29, 2006 and in Nashville on August 30 and in Boulder on August 31 with future tour dates to be announced.

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