March 2, 2008


Bluegrass Suite Packs a Progressive 'Punch' (Craig Havighurst, February 29, 2008, All Things Considered)

It's part modern chamber music and part song cycle — an impressionistic picture of a young marriage gone sour called "The Blind Leaving The Blind." It owes a debt to Bach, Bob Dylan, even the Beach Boys. And, of course, bluegrass.

Since its birth in the late 1940s, bluegrass music has evolved in ways that founding father Bill Monroe could never have imagined. For more than a decade, mandolinist Chris Thile has been at the vanguard of that change as a soloist and a member of the popular acoustic pop band Nickel Creek.

Now, Thile has composed the most ambitious work of his career: A four-movement, 40-minute suite for bluegrass instruments. Recorded on a new album called Punch, Thile started writing the piece around the time he moved from Nashville to New York in 2005.

"Ever since I became better acquainted with classical music, I've wanted to try my hand at longer forms, but I could never really see my way to it," Thile says. "And after I got divorced, all of a sudden I had a lot of pent-up energy and lots of stuff that had gone into trying to make this failing relationship work that kind of got reapplied."

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 2, 2008 8:43 AM

I read the story; however, I don't get the "progressive" part in the headline. Do they want to re-distribute wealth in America? Do they want to impeach our President?

I suppose they are using the non-political definition of "progressive".

Speaking of the political "progressive", did anyone happen to see that Pete Seeger American Masters program on PBS this week? Talk about airbrushing history, or at least glossing over Mr. Seeger being a spokesman in America for Stalin's lies. Unless I missed something, the PBS program didn't even mention that in 2007 Pete Seeger finally acknowledged the true terror of Stalin and communist totalitariansim.

Posted by: pchuck at March 2, 2008 11:40 AM

I love "newgrass" bands like Nickel Creek, The Dhuks, and Eastmountainsouth.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 2, 2008 1:04 PM