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Break was value-plus for Nickel Creek members

By Gary Graff
Digital First Media/@GraffonMusic

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When Nickel Creek went on an open-ended hiatus in 2007, the Americana trio really didn't know what lay ahead. But singer-fiddler Sara Watkins says she was always confident the group would make more music together -- as it has on this year's "A Dotted Line," Nickel Creek's first set of new material since 2005.

"We're friends, and friends play music together," says Watkins, 33, who formed Nickel Creek 25 years ago in Vista, Calif., with her older brother Sean Watkins and mandolinist Chris Thile. "Even over these years when we weren't doing official Nickel Creeks shows we've gotten together, at in on each other's shows, worked up a couple songs here and there. So I wasn't worried.

"We were so burned out and exhausted by (2007) that (the break) had to happen. But I think it really strengthened me, and the guys, too. One of the nice things about being a musician is you can play in a lot of bands and do a lot of things. It doesn't have to be a one-project kind of career."

During the interim, Sara Watkins released two solo albums and worked with Jackson Browne, the Decemberists, needtobreathe and the all-star group Works Progress Administration. Thile formed the Punch Brothers and is part of the classical-bluegrass blending quartet Goat Rodeo Sessions, and Sean Watkins released solo albums, joined his sister in WPA and formed the group Fiction Family. Sara Watkins says they'll be returning to these other endeavors after Nickel Creek's current tour, again leaving the group's future open-ended.

"The logistics and time are the biggest challenges," says Watkins, who will start recording her third solo album this fall. "There's a lot of moving parts to wrangle with us, and we've never really been great about planning ahead.

"So there might be something in the future. I know we're all having a great time doing this and touring and celebrating this album. I think regardless of what we do after this tour, we're always going to feel like a band because of the time we've spent together in our lives. That'll never change."

Nickel Creek

8 p.m. Saturday, July 12

Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor

Tickets are $35-$55

Call 734-668-8463 or visit www.michtheater.org

Web Site: www.michtheater.org

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