Mandolinist Chris Thile is among the most highly acclaimed musicians of his generation.
It started when he was a toddler in Oceanside, California. His folks took him along for weekly visits to a pizza parlor in nearby Carlsbad, where he heard John Moore's band Bluegrass Etc., and where he would soon befriend siblings Sara and Sean Watkins, his future Nickel Creek bandmates.
The mandolin captivated the youngster. He started lessons with Moore, who wasted no time in getting the five-year-old on stage. "I was too young to be nervous." Chris recalls. I thought, 'Oh, this is what you get to do when you're five.'" Before long, the Thiles were driving bluegrass festival to bluegrass festival in the family camper. Chris was a soaking up music, jamming with other players, and winning championships.
By age eight, Chris had launched Nickel Creek with Sara and Sean Watkins. The genre-bending trio would go on to sell millions of albums and garner a boatload of honors, including a Grammy and a couple of IBMA Awards. In 2007, Nickel Creek called an "indefinite hiatus," although they reunited in 2014 and released A Dotted Line (Nonesuch Records).
Chris, recipient of a 2012 MacArthur "genius" grant, has certainly made his mark - and not only in bluegrass music. His mandolin concerto, Ad astra per alas porci, had its official premiere in 2009, with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. He has collaborated with a who's who of musicians. His album Bass & Mandolin (Nonesuch) with Edgar Meyer won a Grammy, as did The Goat Rodeo Sessions (Sony Masterworks), when he joined forces with Meyer, Stuart Duncan, and Yo-Yo Ma. And his Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1 - music originally composed for violin - was released by Nonesuch Records in 2013.
In 2006, Chris formed Punch Brothers, with Chris Eldridge (guitar), Paul Kowert (bass), Noam Pikelny (banjo), and Gabe Witcher (fiddle). The group's recordings include Grammy-nominated The Phosphorescent Blues and a new five-track EP,The Wireless.
Chris Thile is married to actress Claire Coffee. The two, along with their young son, Calvin, make their home in Portland, Oregon.