First appearance: 1989 at the San Diego Bluegrass Festival (Lake Henshaw, CA).
They began as a “kid band” featuring Sean and Sara Watkins (brother and sister on guitar and fiddle), Chris and Scott Thile (father and son on bass and mandolin). The three kids were all under 12 at the time.
Their band name came from a tune on one of Byron Berline’s fiddle albums. Nickel Creek is actually a ranch in Texas where Byron wrote the tune. When the ranch owner found out about the Nickel Creek band, he invited them to perform there—their first out-of-state gig.
1994, released first album on cassette “Nickel Creek” (no label).
First DJ to play Nickel Creek on the radio: Wayne Rice, KSON-FM San Diego!
1995, group was split geographically when the Thiles moved to Murray, Kentucky.
1997, released “Here to There” album (no label).
1997, got first national TV exposure on the Statler Brothers Show (TNN).
1999, recorded Nickel Creek album, produced by Alison Krauss.
2000, had a hit video on CMT. Signed by the William Morris Agency.
2000, won IBMA award for Emerging Artist of the Year.
2001, received two Grammy nominations: Country Instrumental Performance and Bluegrass Album.
2001, worked several shows with Dolly Parton.
2001, won the IBMA award for Instrumental Group of the Year. Chris also won award for Mandolin Player of the Year.
2001, were featured in a double-page photo spread and article in TIME magazine as one of the top 100 “Innovators of the Year.”
2001, was nominated for Vocal Group of the Year and the Horizon Award at the CMA Awards. Performed on the show.
2003, won Grammy Award for This Side album (Best Contemporary Folk Album)
2004, “This Side” album was certified Gold.
2004, did a “Mutual Admiration Society” tour with Glenn Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket), Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).
2007, did their farewell tour before disbanding.
2007, Chris Thile formed a bluegrass band called the Tensions Mountain Boys, which later became the Punch Brothers.
Since the band breakup: Sara and Sean Watkins have been performing and recording as a duo, as solo artists, as The Watkins Family Hour and The Fiction Family. Sara has appeared on, and guest-hosted Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio broadcast. She is also a member of I’m With Her (with Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz). Chris has recorded solo projects as well as with the Punch Brothers and became full-time host of NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion (now called Live from Here with Chris Thile).
2014, Nickel Creek reunited to record A Dotted Line album and to tour in support of it, celebrating their 25th anniversary as a band.