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We listened to every Nickel Creek song

At home and at Humphries

Rebecca played the Nickel Creek CD until I almost couldn’t stand it
Rebecca played the Nickel Creek CD until I almost couldn’t stand it

Rebecca loves Nickel Creek. We all love Nickel Creek. When our family odyssey into country music began early this year, Nickel Creek was one of the first groups that caught our collective ear. Listening to KSON one morning as I drove my two oldest girls to school, I turned up the volume. “I am a lighthouse worn by the weather and the waves,” sang a young man in a clear, high voice. Behind him, mandolin, fiddle, bass, and guitar played music that sounded almost like country, almost folk, almost bluegrass.

We listened to “The Lighthouse’s Tale” to the end. Rebecca, my oldest, sat in the car in front of her classroom until the last notes died away. “That was a cool song,” Rebecca said.

“Yes, it was,” I agreed.

I heard the song once more that day. When my husband Jack came home from work, I tried to describe the trill of the mandolin, the melancholy fiddle. “You would love this song,” I said. Jack taught himself to play guitar when he was 13. He performed with his brother Mark during college and played in church groups all during his 20s and early 30s. He can play virtually any song James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, or the Eagles ever wrote. “The DJ said Nickel Creek is from Carlsbad,” I continued. “It’s a brother and sister and their friend.”

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A few days later, Jack came home from work with a new CD tucked in his briefcase. “You’ve got to hear the rest of the CD,” he said as mandolin, fiddle, bass, and guitar spilled out of our stereo speakers. “The whole thing is amazing.”

After listening to the CD, we visited the Nickel Creek website. “They’re so young,” Jack said in the enthusiastic, awestruck voice he saves for people he really admires. According to their biographies, Sara Watkins, Sean Watkins, and Chris Thile, all in their early 20s, began playing music together as kids. “They were your age,” Jack told Rebecca, who is nine. “Their CD was a tiny little bluegrass project that turned into a huge hit.”

During the following weeks, Rebecca played the Nickel Creek CD until I almost couldn’t stand it anymore. While her four younger siblings ran around the house or played makebelieve games, Rebecca sat in the soft, round Papasan chair in our living room, read the lyrics, and softly sang along.

We watched Nickel Creek videos on Country Music Television. Rebecca subscribed to Nickel Creek updates on her e-mail. We tracked the progress of the Nickel Creek tour all over the East Coast and Europe during the spring and summer. “If they ever play in San Diego,” Jack told Rebecca, “we’ll go see them.”

In August, Nickel Creek released their second CD. Jack pre-ordered it on Amazon, and we received the new disc in the mail on the release date. Within the week, Rebecca had the new CD memorized as well. A few weeks later, I checked the website for new concert dates. I called Jack at work. “They’re playing at Humphrey’s in September,” I told him. “Can we take Rebecca?”

Which is how I found myself last Wednesday night sitting on a folding chair beside the bay with Rebecca clutching my left arm. “How much longer until they come out?” Rebecca asked as she gazed up at the dark stage.

“A few more minutes,” I answered. “They usually start a few minutes late to give everyone a chance to get in their seats.”

I looked around the crowd. “See,” I told Rebecca, “there are lots of other kids.” Rebecca had been concerned about being the youngest one at the show. She smiled in reply.

A moment later, the house lights dimmed. The stage lights glowed warm and yellow. One of the local country-radio announcers stepped onto the stage and said a bunch of stuff no one would remember. A few moments after that, Sean, Sara, and Chris took the stage. Sara took up her fiddle; Chris, his mandolin; Sean, his guitar. Rebecca clutched my arm harder.

For the next two hours, we listened to almost every song from both CDs plus some new material. Rebecca smiled and laughed and clapped and held her breath as the music she’d listened to so many times washed over her.

At the concert’s end, after a first encore, Nickel Creek came back one more time. “If everyone could move forward, we’d like to take advantage of our acoustic instruments,” Sara said. She motioned to the sold-out crowd. The people from the back filled the aisles. The people in the front made room. We formed a giant semi-circle as Sara, Sean, and Chris came to the very edge of the stage.

Without microphones or amplifiers, the instruments sounded quiet but pure. Chris sang, “When you’re soaring through the air, I’ll be your solid ground. / Take every chance you dare, I’ll still be there, / When you come back down.” Twelve hundred people stood silently or sang along softly. Rebecca’s voice joined them and rose into the night. “I’ll be on the other end, to hear you when you call. / Angel, you were born to fly. If you get too high, / I’ll catch you when you fall.”

My sweet angel girl clutched my arm. I held on tight and sang along.

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Rebecca played the Nickel Creek CD until I almost couldn’t stand it
Rebecca played the Nickel Creek CD until I almost couldn’t stand it

Rebecca loves Nickel Creek. We all love Nickel Creek. When our family odyssey into country music began early this year, Nickel Creek was one of the first groups that caught our collective ear. Listening to KSON one morning as I drove my two oldest girls to school, I turned up the volume. “I am a lighthouse worn by the weather and the waves,” sang a young man in a clear, high voice. Behind him, mandolin, fiddle, bass, and guitar played music that sounded almost like country, almost folk, almost bluegrass.

We listened to “The Lighthouse’s Tale” to the end. Rebecca, my oldest, sat in the car in front of her classroom until the last notes died away. “That was a cool song,” Rebecca said.

“Yes, it was,” I agreed.

I heard the song once more that day. When my husband Jack came home from work, I tried to describe the trill of the mandolin, the melancholy fiddle. “You would love this song,” I said. Jack taught himself to play guitar when he was 13. He performed with his brother Mark during college and played in church groups all during his 20s and early 30s. He can play virtually any song James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, or the Eagles ever wrote. “The DJ said Nickel Creek is from Carlsbad,” I continued. “It’s a brother and sister and their friend.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

A few days later, Jack came home from work with a new CD tucked in his briefcase. “You’ve got to hear the rest of the CD,” he said as mandolin, fiddle, bass, and guitar spilled out of our stereo speakers. “The whole thing is amazing.”

After listening to the CD, we visited the Nickel Creek website. “They’re so young,” Jack said in the enthusiastic, awestruck voice he saves for people he really admires. According to their biographies, Sara Watkins, Sean Watkins, and Chris Thile, all in their early 20s, began playing music together as kids. “They were your age,” Jack told Rebecca, who is nine. “Their CD was a tiny little bluegrass project that turned into a huge hit.”

During the following weeks, Rebecca played the Nickel Creek CD until I almost couldn’t stand it anymore. While her four younger siblings ran around the house or played makebelieve games, Rebecca sat in the soft, round Papasan chair in our living room, read the lyrics, and softly sang along.

We watched Nickel Creek videos on Country Music Television. Rebecca subscribed to Nickel Creek updates on her e-mail. We tracked the progress of the Nickel Creek tour all over the East Coast and Europe during the spring and summer. “If they ever play in San Diego,” Jack told Rebecca, “we’ll go see them.”

In August, Nickel Creek released their second CD. Jack pre-ordered it on Amazon, and we received the new disc in the mail on the release date. Within the week, Rebecca had the new CD memorized as well. A few weeks later, I checked the website for new concert dates. I called Jack at work. “They’re playing at Humphrey’s in September,” I told him. “Can we take Rebecca?”

Which is how I found myself last Wednesday night sitting on a folding chair beside the bay with Rebecca clutching my left arm. “How much longer until they come out?” Rebecca asked as she gazed up at the dark stage.

“A few more minutes,” I answered. “They usually start a few minutes late to give everyone a chance to get in their seats.”

I looked around the crowd. “See,” I told Rebecca, “there are lots of other kids.” Rebecca had been concerned about being the youngest one at the show. She smiled in reply.

A moment later, the house lights dimmed. The stage lights glowed warm and yellow. One of the local country-radio announcers stepped onto the stage and said a bunch of stuff no one would remember. A few moments after that, Sean, Sara, and Chris took the stage. Sara took up her fiddle; Chris, his mandolin; Sean, his guitar. Rebecca clutched my arm harder.

For the next two hours, we listened to almost every song from both CDs plus some new material. Rebecca smiled and laughed and clapped and held her breath as the music she’d listened to so many times washed over her.

At the concert’s end, after a first encore, Nickel Creek came back one more time. “If everyone could move forward, we’d like to take advantage of our acoustic instruments,” Sara said. She motioned to the sold-out crowd. The people from the back filled the aisles. The people in the front made room. We formed a giant semi-circle as Sara, Sean, and Chris came to the very edge of the stage.

Without microphones or amplifiers, the instruments sounded quiet but pure. Chris sang, “When you’re soaring through the air, I’ll be your solid ground. / Take every chance you dare, I’ll still be there, / When you come back down.” Twelve hundred people stood silently or sang along softly. Rebecca’s voice joined them and rose into the night. “I’ll be on the other end, to hear you when you call. / Angel, you were born to fly. If you get too high, / I’ll catch you when you fall.”

My sweet angel girl clutched my arm. I held on tight and sang along.

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