Nickel Creek Farewell (for now) at the Ryman
November 29, 2007
Almost exactly 18 years ago—December, 1989--my wife Karen and I were in Nashville for Newgrass Revival’s “Farewell (for now)” performance at The Cannery, which preceded their final gig opening for the Dead on New Year’s Eve in California. It was the end of an era, the most important band in the short history of Newgrass music in their last hurrah.
Last night, I wore the Newgrass Revival shirt from that final mini-tour as my wife and I, along with our 14 year old son Jake, enjoyed the Farewell (“for now”) performance of Nickel Creek, the most important Newgrass band since NGR, in Nashville’s Ryman auditorium.
And when Bela Fleck joined them as one of their guests, it brought a direct connection between the band that ended 18 years ago with the band of kids that was just beginning, 18 years ago.
It was a satisfying ending. There were few mentions of the “farewell” aspect of the show, but the looks on the faces of the trio as they stood on the stage at the end, taking their final bows as a band, said plenty. This was a triumphantly bittersweet moment.
The guests on various numbers were pianist Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Tim O’Brien, Bela Fleck, and Scott Thile, Chris’s father and the original NC bassist, who came out for an encore.
I’m sure someone will post a setlist to nickelcreek.info eventually. I didn’t keep one, but I am in the process of posting a few very low-definition video snippets on YouTube that I caught last night (my YouTube username is obadiahe). Here are the comments attached to those videos:
Nickel Creek Farewell 1: [The person in the clip with the poster is my son Jake.] Here are a few low-def moments from Nickel Creek's Farewell (for now) concert tonight (actually, last night, Thursday, November 29, 2007) from Nashville's Ryman. I had a VERY limited amount of memory, and I kept deleting segments to make more room as the concert moved to its finish--the damn thing kept running out, usually in mid tune. Unfortunately, there's nothing of Gillian Welch & David Rawlings or Benmont Tench, but what I did capture was wonderful, including the end of an encore with Chris's father Scott Thile reprising his role as original bassist. So, here are a few highlights, in order of performance (The Fox, of which the very end is included, ended the show, before the encores). Also included are the last few bars of the final number and a bow.
Nickel Creek Farewell 2: [Jealous Of The Moon-excerpt] The laughter is because, announcing the tune, Sara complained about how rarely people dance to it, a waltz. During the tune, a couple of guys in the wings began to waltz together.
Nickel Creek Farewell 3: This is the longest segment, a virtually complete performance of "Anthony," and Bela Fleck joining them for a Strength In Numbers number, "Texas Red." You can hear the opening notes of Lighthouse as the memory goes blink.
Nickel Creek Farewell 4: This is the official end of the show (before the encores), the last couple minutes of The Fox, from the end of Mark Schatz's Hambone, with Chris joining him, to their bows.
Nickel Creek Farewell 5: The first two-and-a-half minutes of "Whitewater," with Bela Fleck and Tim O'Brien guesting. This was most frustrating time that the memory ran out.
Nickel Creek Farewell 6: Excerpt from "Blue Night" with guests Tim O'Brien, Bela Fleck and Chris's father Scott, Nickel Creek's original bassist.
Nickel Creek Farewell 7: Last notes of "Blue Night" with guests Tim O'Brien, Bela Fleck and Chris's father Scott, Nickel Creek's original bassist, with Scott's on-stage farewell to the band.
Nickel Creek Farewell 8: The End. The last moments of “Why Should the Fire Die,” unamplified.
So keep an eye on YouTube for these.