Chris Thile bringing mandolin, humor
Donna Isbell Walker, [email protected]:14 p.m. EDT September 6, 2016
When musician Chris Thile performs at the Peace Center Sept. 13, he will definitely be bringing along his trusty mandolin.
Thile, known for his work with Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers, as well as his solo music, is considered a virtuoso on the instrument, which will be front and center at his Peace Center show.
So fans shouldn’t be surprised to hear “quite a bit of mandolin,” Thile said with a laugh. “There’ll be quite a bit of mandolin, like just ridiculous amounts of mandolin, reprehensible amounts of mandolin. I’ll sing, and I’ll talk, and I’ll probably dance more than I intend to. But the dancing is not part of the show; it’s a by-product of me playing and singing. Believe me, I do not mean to; it just happens. Fair warning is the only reason I bring it up.”
Chatting over the phone from his home in Portland, Oregon, Thile laughs often, and his answers to questions often veer off in unexpected directions.
For example, a question about the musical boundaries of his chosen instrument leads Thile to ponder the limitations of the mandolin’s range before concluding that the mandolin “would be very, very bad at playing a stadium rock show unamplified. It’d be a problem, it’d be such a problem. … (But) with the proper amplification, I wouldn’t put it past the mandolin to put on a damn fine stadium rock show.”
That sense of humor and loose vibe should serve Thile well in his upcoming gig as the new host of the public radio perennial favorite, “Prairie Home Companion.”
Next month, Thile takes over hosting duties in the wake of Garrison Keillor’s retirement. Keillor has been the soothing voice from Lake Woebegon for more than four decades, and it might seem daunting to step into the shoes of a radio legend.
But Thile has already begun preparing, and he plans to put his own stamp on the show, rather than offering an impersonation of Keillor.
“I’m incredibly excited, and I understand the gravity of the situation, and it’s a big deal,” Thile said. “But it’s also, I want to do it, and I feel like I should do it, and I feel like I can do it. So I’m not that daunted. If what I was supposed to do on the show, is do Garrison Keillor, then I’d be daunted as all hell. But again, that’s not what should be done here. What needs to be done is, ‘Prairie Home Companion,’ which is his immortal creation — in my opinion, it’s immortal — it’s the kind of thing that can and should live beyond his direct participation in it and involvement. He’s stepping away from the show; it’s his wish that the show continue without him, and my dearest hope is that it can.”
One way Thile will change up the show as host is that he plans to write a new song for each “Prairie Home Companion” episode.
But the Thile-centric “Prairie Home Companion” won’t get under way until mid-October. He’s still finishing up the late-summer leg of his current tour, which concludes in Greenville.
He said he’s excited to come back to Greenville, and he’s still deciding on which songs he’ll perform.
“On a good day, with the sun shining and the right breeze, it’ll all sort of seamlessly flow into itself. (It will be) kind of a mix of some things that I’ve written and some things that other people have written that I love, including a touch of Bach,” he said. “I like to look out into the audience and get a feel for who you guys are that night. … I’m such a planner at heart, but I really love to go off the beaten path.”
YOU CAN GO
What: An Evening With Chris Thile
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13
Where: Peace Center
How much: $25-$45
For more: www.peacecenter.org