NICKEL CREEK (Sugar Hill Records) Nickel Creek
It's an unbelievable story. Young Sean and Sara Watkins went down regularly to a local pizza place. Their two music teachers played a duo gig there. John Moore played guitar and mandolin, and Dennis Caplinger played fiddle. Dennis taught Sara fiddle, and John taught Sean guitar and mandolin. He also taught another young fireball, Chris Thile. It was at this pizza place that Nickel Creek was born.
All three were already serious bluegrass pickers, and the oldest of them was 12. They formed a group that started playing gigs right away, and they've been tearing it up for 10 years. They're now the international bluegrass sensation known as Nickel Creek, and may well become the biggest act in the history of the genre, at the rate things are going.
Bluegrass heartthrob is not an oxymoron anymore. All three members are beautiful, and their talent is off the scale, especially as a trio. Their singing is fantastic, with expression that defies their youth. They write really good songs, and go far beyond the boundaries of traditional bluegrass. I think they'll soon do what their producer Alison Krauss did, and find a few outstanding cover tunes that will catapult them into the next dimension. "When You Come Back Down," by greats Tim O'Brien and Danny O'Keefe, is their big hit at the moment. But it will take more of a pop song to really crack it wide open, and it won't be long.
To call them promising is kind of a joke. Nobody's talking about their potential. They're already There, and they're barely 20. They appear to be clean living, God-loving young individuals, so they may avoid the classic pitfalls of fame, and really get it all. I look forward to hearing them grow as songwriters, and as virtuosos that mix all the elements of great music together, and erase all the boundaries that don't really exist anyway. Nickel Creek. Check them out if you haven't already, they're downright stupefying. FG