End of the Road? 

Band's final tour may or may not be your last chance to see them.

Nickel Creek fiddle player and singer Sara Watkins chooses words carefully when talking about her group’s farewell tour. The bluegrass trio -- which first got together in 1989, when Watkins and mandolinist Chris Thile were eight years old -- is calling it quits later this year. But, as Watkins suggests several times, the door isn’t exactly shutting for good. “We’re very comfortable putting this down right now and pursuing different musical outlets,” she says. “We just wanted one last hurrah before we put it on the shelf for a little while.”

Ever since Watkins and her guitarist brother Sean hooked up with Thile, Nickel Creek has redefined the concept of bluegrass. At its core, the group plants itself in O Brother, Where Art Thou? territory. But their music stretches across the pop landscape -- everything from dance-pop (they’ve performed Britney Spears songs in-concert) to hipster-approved indie rock (they’ve covered Pavement on record). “It’s an end of an era,” says Watkins. “I know, no matter what I do creatively, it’s gonna be totally different. This has been my life for 18 years.” Nickel Creek released its last album, Why Should the Fire Die?, two years ago. Watkins says there was no indication that it would be the last time the longtime friends would record together. Then again, she isn’t exactly ruling out future collaborations. “We’re leaving it open,” she says. “Just in case, years down the line, we all come together and want to make another record and tour. But this break is the right thing for us now.”
Wed., July 18, 8 p.m.

Speaking of Highlights

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