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Nickel Creek 

At A Christmas to Remember, with Amy Grant, Vince Gill, and others. Wednesday, December 12, at Gund Arena.

Nickel Creek
  • Nickel Creek
Perhaps only The New York Times could have written this headline: "Bluegrass That Can Twang and Be Cool Too." Excuse me? Somebody inform the gray lady that all bluegrass is cool. Nickel Creek, the subject of the above header, is just different. The twang's there, but forget everything you think of when you hear the word "bluegrass." Don't even think "newgrass," for Nickel Creek plays jazz, classical, Celtic, new age, and any ol' other musical style that tickles its fancy. It's been around for 10 years, since guitarist Sean Watkins was 14 and his fiddling sister Sara and mandolinist Chris Thile were 10.

Maybe it's fitting that this trio, playing such a diffuse mix of styles, grew up in San Diego -- as unlikely a place to breed bluegrass prodigies as you'll find. They don't even look "down home." Chris and Sean, with their spiky short hair, could be in the latest hot MTV act. Sara, with her low-cut evening gowns, could pass for the youngest member of the Cleveland Orchestra. Radio play has eluded them, but video, word of mouth, side projects (Chris and Sean have solo albums), and two Grammy nominations after their self-titled debut release last year have won them an army of fans of all ages. Now how cool is that?

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