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A new description of Chris Thile would be hard to come by, especially since all the good superlatives have already been used. They called him a child prodigy when he was 12 years old and making his first solo album, 1994's Leading Off..., and a virtuoso when he was 20 and putting out his third solo effort, 2001's Not All Who Wander Are Lost. On the heels of those descriptions came effusive adjectives for his talent with a mandolin, words like "brilliant," "bold," "utterly fantastic," and "staggering." Heady stuff for someone who was barely out of his teens. But to hear Thile's joyful playing, or to see his fingers fly with easy speed and agility over his mandolin as they did when he appeared with his bandmates from Nickel Creek on the 35th CMA Awards Show in 2001, is to learn firsthand that the enthusiastic praise aimed at the young mandolin player isn't just hype. In addition to his work as a solo artist, Thile has been part of Nickel Creek, with siblings Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins, for more than ten years. He helped Nickel Creek earn a pair of Grammy nominations for a self-titled debut album, which was released by Sugar Hill in 2000 and claimed a niche in Billboard's country Top 20. Their sophomore effort, 2002's This Side, later nabbed the group's first Grammy win for Best Contemporary Folk Album. In 2001, Thile took home the title of Mandolin Player of the Year from the Instrumental Bluegrass Music Association, while the band was honored as Instrumental Group of the Year. He and his bandmates were nominated that same year for the CMA's Vocal Group of the Year and the Horizon Award. Thile started earning awards and championships years ago. He took home top honors in mandolin competitions in both Arizona and Kansas when he was 13, a time when he also received a nod from the International Bluegrass Music Association with a nomination for Player of the Year. He and Nickel Creek played during a Grammy Awards ceremony while backing country superstar Dolly Parton, and Thile and Sara Watkins made appearances in a Parton music video. Country Music Television also took notice of Thile and his fellow bandmembers, airing videos of the band's "When You Come Back Down" and "Reasons Why." Initially, Nickel Creek also included Scott Thile, the mandolinist's bass-playing father. The elder Thile bowed out after the group launched its first album. The younger Thile acted as producer on Not All Who Wander Are Lost. Among the album's guest artists are the other two-thirds of Nickel Creek, Edgar Meyer, Jeff Coffin, Union Station's Jerry Douglas, and Béla Fleck. One of Thile's enduring influences, John Moore, was one of his first mandolin instructors during Thile's childhood in California and plays in the band Bluegrass Etc. Moore was formerly a member of California, a first-rate bluegrass band, along with Dan Crary and Byron Berline. (The trio Thile formed with the Watkins siblings borrows its name from a song written by Berline.) Through this flurry of activity, Thile continued to record on his own, releasing Deceiver in the fall of 2004. The album showed him exploring a more progressive and experimental side of bluegrass music, instead of just the hotshot mandolin playing that marked his prior albums. The more organic-sounding but still eclectic How to Grow a Woman from the Ground followed in 2006 and earned Thile a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance. He recorded the album with the backing band the How to Grow a Band (with whom he later toured), which comprised Noam Pikelny, Gabe Witcher, Chris Eldridge, and Greg Garrison. The group officially changed its name to the Punch Brothers in 2007 and debuted Thile's ambitious 40-minute, four-movement suite, The Blind Leaving the Blind at Carnegie Hall. The entire suite, along with a handful of other tracks, appeared on 2008s Punch. 2008 also saw the release of a collaboration for Nonesuch with Edgar Meyer titled Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile. A new Punch Brothers collection, Antifogmatic, arrived in 2010, followed by 2011's Sleep with One Eye Open, a collaboration with bluegrass guitarist Michael Daves.
Christopher Scott Thile (pron.: /ˈθiːiː/ THEE-lee; born February 20, 1981) is an American musician, best known as the mandolinist and a singer for the progressive acoustic trio Nickel Creek and acoustic folk/bluegrass quintet the Punch Brothers. He is a 2012 MacArthur Fellow.
The three members of Nickel Creek met in Carlsbad, California at That Pizza Place in 1989, listening to weekly bluegrass shows with their parents. Soon they were taking lessons and then playing festivals, and even recording albums. Their first, Little Cowpoke, was released in 1994. Nickel Creek went on to record several more albums, including their self-titled debut album and This Side, which went platinum and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. In 2005, Nickel Creek released Why Should the Fire Die?, which received massive critical acclaim and sold 250,000 units.
Thile has released other solo albums, including Not All Who Wander Are Lost, released in 2001, and Deceiver in 2004 (in which he wrote, composed, sang, and played every part). In 2008, Thile released a collaboration album with bassist Edgar Meyer, and also plans to release a collaborative album with Hilary Hahn.
1981-1999: Early life and career 
Thile was born in Oceanside, California in 1981. His earliest memories of music are listening to Stan Getz's recording of "The Girl from Ipanema" before he even turned one year old. When he was two, his family started going to That Pizza Place, where he listened to John Moore's band Bluegrass Etc. When Thile was four, his family moved to Idyllwild, California.
Thile began playing the mandolin at the age of five, taking occasional lessons from John Moore. At age eight, Thile's family and the Watkins family formed Nickel Creek. The band performed at many California bluegrass festivals, and as a result Chris had to be home-schooled. At age twelve, he won the national mandolin championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas.
That same year, 1993, Thile made a demo tape and sent it to the Sugar Hill and Rounder record labels. Both labels showed interest, but the Thiles went with Sugar Hill. The next year Chris Thile released his first solo album, Leading Off, featuring mostly original compositions.
In 1995, the Thile family moved to Murray, Kentucky where Chris' father Scott Thile accepted a position at Murray State University as a musical instrument technician. In 1997, Chris released Stealing Second and Nickel Creek released Here to There. Chris went on to attend Murray State University for a few semesters, where he was a music major.
2000-2005: Wander and Deceiver 
Following the major success and platinum accreditation of the album Nickel Creek, Thile released Not All Who Wander Are Lost in 2001. The album featured guest appearances from several well-known instrumentalists such as Stuart Duncan, Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas, and Bryan Sutton.
In 2003, Thile teamed up with mandolinist Mike Marshall for the duet album Into the Cauldron, which included original pieces as well as pieces by Charlie Parker and J. S. Bach. Also in 2003, Thile joined Mark O'Connor for his double CD set "Thirty-Year Retrospective" which was nominated for a Grammy. In 2004, Thile released Deceiver, an experimental album on which he recorded every track himself. This included electric guitar, piano, drums, violin, viola, cello, and bass. Deceiver demonstrated some pop/rock songwriting in addition to "newgrass."
2006-Present: Punch Brothers and Edgar Meyer project 
In August 2006, Nickel Creek announced that at the end of the year they would no longer be recording together as a group, and their tour scheduled through 2007 would be their last for an indefinite period of time.
Thile was a judge for the fifth annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.
In 2006, Thile formed the How to Grow a Band, with whom he recorded How to Grow a Woman from the Ground, Thile's fifth album. In an interview with the Nashville City Paper, Thile described the formation of the band:Sara Watkins with Thile on Nickel Creek's Farewell (For Now) Tour in April 2007.We got together one night just to drop a ton of money, drink too much wine, eat steaks, and commiserate about our failed relationships. We had gotten to play together a few days before and we had said that we needed to do something musical together. With our hearts smashed to pieces, it became more urgent — our lives had gone the same way for so long. I knew I wanted to have a band with Gabe [Witcher], but I didn’t know if it would be a rock ensemble, an ambitious acoustic classical thing or a bluegrass group. We played, and there was a serious, instantaneous connection. Then I knew I wanted to put together a bluegrass band — one with a lot of range, but aesthetically a bluegrass band.
The band consisted of Chris Thile (mandolin), Gabe Witcher (fiddle/violin), Chris Eldridge (guitar), Greg Garrison (bass), and Noam Pikelny (banjo). Bryan Sutton has also filled in on guitar when necessary while Eldridge played out commitments to The Infamous Stringdusters. In 2007, the band officially changed its name first to "The Tensions Mountain Boys" and then "Punch Brothers."
On March 17, 2007, at Carnegie Hall, this group debuted Thile's ambitious "The Blind Leaving the Blind", a 40-minute suite in four movements that Thile told NPR was written in part to deal with his 2004 divorce.
Punch Brothers released its first album, Punch, February 26, 2008, on Nonesuch Records. The album featured Thile's suite "The Blind Leaving the Blind", as well as other original songs.
To promote Punch, Thile and Punch Brothers planned a year-long tour in 2008, as well as a February 29 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In late 2008, Paul Kowert replaced Garrison on bass. Punch Brothers released Antifogmatic on February 15, 2010, and continued to tour. On November 5, 2010, the band performed "Rye Whiskey" on the Late Show with David Letterman with Steve Martin guesting on banjo.
The Punch Brothers released their newest album, Who's Feeling Young Now?, in early 2012.
In August 2008, Thile and bassist Edgar Meyer announced the release date of the duo's planned debut album. The album was released on Thile's label Nonesuch Records on September 23, 2008. Commenting on the collaboration, Thile said "Edgar is one of the biggest influences on my musical life, and now I’m in a duo with him and writing songs with him. This was my dream. I always wondered what it would be like to be playing music this hard." The duo toured in September and October 2008 to promote the album.
Side projects 
Thile is featured in the documentary Bluegrass Journey, along with the rest of Nickel Creek. He has also appeared on a number of other artists' recordings, including Béla Fleck's Perpetual Motion, playing arrangements of Baroque, Impressionist, Classical and other styles of music with Fleck and Edgar Meyer, the CD "Jam Session" with Mark O'Connor Frank Vignola Bryan Sutton and Jon Burr, the Dixie Chicks' Home, Kate Rusby's Awkward Annie, Julie Fowlis' Cuilidh, Dolly Parton's Little Sparrow, Dierks Bentley's Up on the Ridge, and Sarah Jarosz's Follow Me Down.
Thile has performed as a duo with guitarist and vocalist Michael Daves since 2005. They released their debut album "Sleep With One Eye Open" on May 10, 2011. Recorded at Jack White's studio, the album consists of 16 classic bluegrass duets. Jack White also produced and played on the duo's 7" vinyl record "Man in the Middle" on Third Man Records. Thile and Daves met in 2005 at a bluegrass jam at NYC's Baggot Inn.
In 2009 Thile completed a mandolin concerto entitled Ad astra per alas porci. The work was commissioned by a consortium of orchestras including the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Winston-Salem Symphony, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Portland Symphony Orchestra, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Thile performed the world premiere of the first movement with the Interlochen Arts Camp World Youth Symphony Orchestra under director Jung-Ho Pak, and premiered his entire concerto with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 17, 2009.
In 2011 he recorded The Goat Rodeo Sessions with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer and fiddle player Stuart Duncan. On October 25, 2011 he appeared on the Jay Leno show as a member of the Yo-Yo Ma and Friends musical act.