PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chris Thile On The Mandolin: ‘It’s My Voice’

Chris Thile of the Punch Brothers performs during the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (AP)

Chris Thile’s love affair with the mandolin started early in life: at age two he fell for it when he heard the instrument played at a pizza place near his home.

“It was small and high pitched, like me,” the 31-year-old told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “It was really interesting, especially to a little tiny person.”

As Thile grew, he learned to play the mandolin and at age eight, he formed the band Nickel Creek with siblings Sara and Sean Watkins.

‘It’s My Voice’

The group won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 2003. Thile has also collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan and Edgar Meyer on “The Goat Rodeo Sessions” and he’s even written a mandolin concerto.

“I play the mandolin, which people don’t often expect great things from,” he said. “But it has it’s charms, and it’s my voice. I feel like I had as little choice in the matter as I do my speaking and singing voice.”

Chris Thile is now touring with his bluegrass band Punch Brothers behind their latest CD “Who’s Feeling Young Now.”

The Rhythm Of Bluegrass 

The group chose to do bluegrass instead of rock — which Thile says wouldn’t have been easy to do with a mandolin.

“The darned thing about mandolins is they’re really hard to turn up as loud as you would need to be to play with a drum set,” he said. “They cease to sound like mandolins.”

But Thile says that bluegrass helped him develop a strong sense of rhythm.

“There’s something about the banjo rolling, the mandolin is the snare drum… it’s such a tight knit ensemble and it exposes any flaws in rhythm so readily,” he said.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

July 30 37 Comments

Oxford Conservationist Talks About 7 Years Of Tracking Cecil

The 13-year-old lion was not only a tourist favorite, but also, a research animal. The beloved lion was being studied by the Oxford University Conservation Unit.

July 30 27 Comments

NAACP To Begin 860-Mile ‘Journey For Justice’ March

The march, which will travel from Selma, Ala. to Washington, seeks to highlight vulnerable communities subject to regressive voting rights.

July 29 2 Comments

Garden-Inspired Cooking With Kathy Gunst

We visit our resident chef's garden in Maine, make gazpacho and get a recipe for a plum tart with hazelnut crust.

July 29 691 Comments

Two Sides Of The GMO Debate

We moderate a debate over a bill that would bar states from forcing food manufacturers to label genetically modified foods.