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Listen: Chris Thile Discusses Music and the Mandolin on PRI's "Here and Now"

Chris Thile by Danny Clinch 2012 sq
Chris Thile is a guest on the latest episode of the public radio show Here and Now, from NPR member station WBUR, 90.9 FM, in Boston. Thile talks with host Robin Young about his lifelong love of the mandolin, from the first time he saw the instrument, at the age of two, to some of the many projects through which that has manifest itself: his years with the band Nickel Creek; his mandolin concerto, Ad astra per alas porci (To the stars on the wings of a pig); and, of course, the group Punch Brothers, with whom he has released three albums on Nonesuch Records, including most recently Who's Feeling Young Now?.

On the show, Thile explains how it is that this far-from-traditional band happens to have its roots in, among other things, bluegrass music and its traditional instrumentation of mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar, and bass.

"It's an interesting training ground for a serious musician," Thile says of bluegrass. "There are very few folk-oriented disciplines that stress the importance of rhythm so fervently. 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 that I think in the bluegrass community you have some of the most rhythmically proficient musicians in the world."

Listen to the interveiw, which includes clips from Thile's mandolin concerto and Who's Feeling Young Now?, here:

Chris Thile On The Mandolin: 'It's My Voice' by Here & Now

And speaking of bluegrass, Chris Thile joins his fellow Punch Brothers for a set at ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky, this Friday, their last US show before launching a European tour next month.

Before then, Thile and guitarist Michael Daves perform at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, this Thursday. The two recorded their debut duo album, Sleep with One Eye Open, in Nashville at Jack White's Third Man studio last year; it features 16 traditional tunes by bluegrass legends like The Monroe Brothers, The Louvin Brothers, Jimmy Martin, and Flatt & Scruggs. Thile and Daves also perform at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and the RockyGrass Festival next month.

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