For the renowned mandolinist and Brooklyn-based raconteur Chris Thile, Santa Barbara also feels like home. In addition to being a frequent and popular guest with UCSB Arts & Lectures, Thile has appeared at the Lobero Theatre multiple times with his bands Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers. As recently as February 21 and 28 of this year, Thile and Nickel Creek originated their “livecreek” virtual performances on the streaming service Mandolin from a private home in Santa Barbara. His upcoming solo recital for the UCSB Arts & Lectures’ House Calls series on Tuesday, March 9, will be “like a living-room concert,” says Thile, “because we have a context.” Enthusing about the pleasure he’s taken in creating an original set list for that performance, Thile exclaims, “I can picture y’all!”
A child bluegrass prodigy, in his musical maturity, Thile has transcended genre and category. He’s won multiple Grammys; he has recorded with Brad Mehldau, Edgar Meyer, and Yo-Yo Ma; and he earned a MacArthur Fellowship grant when he was only 31. In October of 2016, Thile took over as host of A Prairie Home Companion, bringing a new vision to one of public radio’s all-time most popular shows. Despite a brilliant start that resulted in his renewal for a second season, circumstances beyond Thile’s control conspired to make the show, which he renamed Live from Here in December 2017, a casualty of the COVID pandemic’s restrictions on live performances in 2020. Thile cites the “sense of ritualistic communion” he felt as host of a live radio show as a profound inspiration, and he is looking forward to sharing some of the magic he was able to create on air with audiences online. For anyone who has attended one of Thile’s solo shows in the past, the decision to tune in for this upcoming production has likely already been made. For newcomers to Thile’s unique art, this is a great chance to catch him at his most direct and personal. For tickets and information, visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
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