Friday night, Mandolin virtuoso/singer Chris Thile and How to Grow a Band will perform at Ann Arbor’s sanctuary for pickers and grinners of all customs and creeds, The Ark.

Although Thile is best known for his contributions to the Grammy-winning acoustic trio Nickel Creek and considered a world-class musician – all by age twenty-five, no less – the tour-ramblin’ man would like to be remembered for a little more than his technical prowess.

“One of the things I’m most excited about,” Thile said, “is the opportunity to expand the repertoire of the bluegrass ensemble.”

This expansion has taken shape in Thile’s widely diverse sources of musical inspiration. Much of that can be found on his latest record, 2006’s How to Grow a Woman from the Ground.

With feet firmly rooted in his prodigious bluegrass upbringing, Thile has covered material ranging from the avenues of indie rock (Pavement, The White Stripes) as well as the pop candy land of Britney Spears. Thile’s most ambitious work – a forty minute suite in four movements -recently debuted at a little venue called Carnegie Hall.

“We choose a cover based on how natural it is for us to play it, yet how unnatural it would be for us to write it,” Thile said.

But don’t be fooled by Thile’s ambition; his bubbling enthusiasm never appears to get the best of his humility.

“It’s a pretty exciting thing to be starting a new band,” Thile said, in reference to his all-star cast of musicians, including renowned flat-pickin’ guitarist Bryan Sutton. “But also to have a certain amount of notoriety. It’s a nice juxtaposition.”

Concertgoers should expect a night filled not only with the exceptional technical display of bluegrass pickers of the finest ilk but also a truly unique voice in an age-old musical tradition – something that even Jake White could grin about.

“[The Ark] is honestly one of my favorite places to play in the country,” Thile said. “I have as much fun there as anywhere. And of course we’ll be full of Zingerman’s deli. That’s always a happy thing.”

Chris Thile
Friday June 8
7:30 p.m.
The Ark

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