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David Royko Psy.D

Chris Thile and an early indicator of things to come (August 1994)

I'd forgotten about this piece about bluegrass I wrote for the Trib in August 1994 until I found it today in search of something else. It was the occasion of the first time I talked to Chris Thile, who was suggested to me as a representative of the music's future. He was 13 and his first album would come out a few months later (blowing my mind at the time). These days, the 2012 MacArthur Genius is getting a lot of attention for his recent recording that moves Bach from the violin to Thile's mandolin. This quote from him almost 20 years ago shows that he's been into this kind of thing for a long time:

"...13-year-old bluegrass mandolin whiz Chris Thile, whose CD on Sugar Hill will be released this fall. As Monroe did in the 1940s, and as Bush, Skaggs, Stuart and Krauss have done since then, Thile enjoys adding new ingredients to the bluegrass pie to form his own identity, and keep the music evolving. 'Jazz really helps me out musicianship-wise, and for improvising,' says Thile. 'My favorite jazz performers are Stephane Grappelli and Joe Pass, and that bass player, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen. I'm trying to get some stuff on mandolin that wouldn't ordinarily be on mandolin, like taking Joe Pass licks and putting them on mandolin, which would be really cool.'"

Yep, very cool.

This is the whole piece:

This is the piece on Thile from a couple of months later:



Music Rambles