Have you ever broken up with someone, and then been forced to go to some function together and pretend like it is not over? The word “awkward” does not do it justice. It feels like you are just going through the motions. Now, just imagine all of those faked smiles through an entire world tour.
However, if you talk to anyone in the band Nickel Creek, they will tell you that their smiles are 100 percent real, even towards the end of their “Farewell (For Now)” hiatus tour, which makes a stop at 9:30 Club Nov. 2.
The group has been praised as one of the most original takes on contemporary bluegrass, melding folk, indie-rock, country and old-timey bluegrass picking together. The trio features Chris Thile on mandolin and siblings Sarah and Sean Watkins on fiddle and guitar, respectively. The three share the singing duties in fantastically disciplined harmony. They pride themselves on their appeal to all sorts of audiences. Dave Matthews fans, Garth Brooks fans, and Elliot Smith fans have something to rejoice over in this power trio.
But if you feel like rejoicing, you don’t have long to do it. It has been more than a year since the group decided to call it quits. Unlike most band break-ups however, this one isn’t bound for a VH1 “Behind the Music” special any time soon. There are no juicy details, that we know of at least. Sean Watkins contends that there are no hard feelings. Rather, they feel like they have ridden out the train as far as it could go, and the break was a planned business move to preserve their close friend and family relationship above all else.
“We like to plan things out and be strategic about it,” Watkins said in an interview with The Hatchet. “It’s bittersweet but we’re mostly excited to do other things.”
Those “other things” are already well under way. Chris Thile is part of the group the Punch Brothers, Sarah Watkins is working on a solo album, and her brother Sean is one half of the duo the Real SeanJon, the other half being Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. There are big things on the horizon for the members of Nickel Creek, but the future is still uncertain.
“It’s the streets of obscurity,” Sean said. “It’s hard to imagine that anything will be as successful as Nickel Creek was.”
This last go around has proved to be a good summation of a great career. There is an introspective nature to the tour, but Nickel Creek plans on going out with a bang. The group has been known to bring out a variety of special guests during their sets, including Ben Harper, Fiona Apple and Bela Fleck. They have also developed a reputation for covering some pretty extraordinary tunes for a bluegrass band, including Radiohead, Pavement, and “Toxic” by Brittany Spears. Be on the lookout for some special cameos and some great cover tunes at this Friday’s concert at 9:30 Club. The tour will culminate in a special set at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, which the band plans of filming for a DVD release.
“It’s going to be kick-ass,” Sean said. “It will be nice to see the country as a band one more time.”
Obviously, Sean and Sarah have been playing together since their childhood, but Chris Thile joined the two at the age of 8. Needless to say, the trio is as close as can be.
“It definitely feels like family,” said Sean. The “family” insists that this is not the end, but rather, an opportunity for each member to branch out. They vow that while this tour will be a special so-long for now, it’s certainly not good-bye.
Nickel Creek will play at 9:30 Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m. Bruce Molsky will open. Tickets are $30.