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Nickel Creek Embraces Fiona, Farewell

Of the Oakland Press

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There’s a legion of Nickel Creek fans out there asking the bluegrass trio to say it ain’t so.

“It” is the group’s Farewell (For Now) Tour, what its members contend will be their last outing for some time — if not forever — bringing to an end a career that’s included six albums since 1993 and four Grammy Awards.

“It’s been a long run,” says mandolinist Chris Thile, 26. “I was 8 years old when we started this band. But as wonderful a thing as Nickel Creek has been, I can no longer do what’s most important to me and do Nickel Creek at the same time. I think (bandmates Sean and Sara Watkins) will tell you the same thing.”

Fiddler Sara Watkins does but also affirms, “We’re not breaking up because we don’t want it to be a ‘reunion’ if we decide to make another record in 10 yeas and tour behind that. We feel like we’re always going to be a band. It’s like saying you’re not a family because brothers and sisters leave and everyone grows up and leaves the house.

“And we’re ending on great terms. We’ve made it this long without hating each other, which is great.”

The trio, which will play their final show in November, certainly are going out with a bang. This summer, they’ve teamed with pop singer-songwriter Fiona Apple for a tour that features Nickel Creek playing on its own as well as backing Apple on her songs and some covers. Apple got to know the band at Largo, a Los Angeles club where the Watkins siblings hold a weekly jam session, and they enjoyed the collaborations there so much they decided to take it on the road.

“It’s really fun, man,” says Thile, who will launch a new solo album and a new group, the Tensions Mountain Boys, in early 2008. “She’s so good and she’s so versatile, and I feel like the two entities complement each other very well. There are probably some people that are confused, but I think it’s mostly gonna be very, very exciting.

“I think the two audiences are closer to one another than you might imagine. Overall, there’ll probably be a few more Nickel Creek songs than Fiona songs, but, hell, it’s our farewell tour.”

Nickel Creek and Fiona Apple perform at 8 p.m. Saturday (August 11th) at Meadow Brook Music Festival, on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills. Tickets are $37.50 pavilion, $18.50 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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