Nickel Creek is mandolinist Chris Thile, violinist Sara Watkins and guitarist Sean Watkins. Together a sum of more than their staggering parts, the trio revolutionized bluegrass and folk in the early 2000s and ushered in a new era of what we now recognize as Americana music. After a nine year absence, the Platinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning trio returned in 2023 with the highly-anticipated album,Celebrants—a bounty of 18 disparate but loosely connected songs written collectively during a creative retreat in Santa Barbara in early 2021. The result is perhaps the most audacious yet accessible release of the Grammy-winning trio’s 34-year career. The entire enterprise is, naturally, shot through with the trio’s virtuosic picking and shiver-inducing harmonies. The lyrics—addressing love, friendship, time, and the universal travails of travel—combine the poetic and plain-spoken, hitting a sweet spot of ethereal and relatable as bridges are built, crossed, burned, and rebuilt. In celebration of the release, the trio will return to the road including three sold-out shows at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium with more dates to be announced soon.
Monica Martin is a Chicago-born singer-songwriter who grew up in rural Wisconsin, mostly waiting for Billie Holiday videos to load on back-country dial-up or making trips in a busted Geo Metro to watch punk shows in Milwaukee. Trained as a hairdresser, she didn't have musical plans beyond joke singing harmonies over the radio. She fronted the acclaimed experimental-folk-pop sextet, PHOX, formed just outside Madison, Wisconsin. Eventually, Monica moved to LA because "Wisconsin is cold as f*ck." She found herself a little periwinkle casita and is feeling freer than ever in the city of misfits. She's presently at work putting melodies to her "explorations in romantic f*ckery" with lowkey pop songs with blue note whispers, some golden-era Hollywood dramatics, and psychedelic flickers courtesy of a theremin. Monica is still figuring out who she is, but quite happy to share her cautionary tales: "I made hundreds of mistakes so you don't have to."