Currently sweeping through the U.S., Nickel Creek (Sean Watkins, guitar/mandolin/vocals; Sara Watkins, fiddle/vocals; and Chris Thile, guitar/banjo/vocals) are touring in support of their latest album, Why Should the Fire Die?. Mix caught up with the band when they brought their fusion of bluegrass, celtic, jazz and country to San Francisco’s Warfield Theater in mid-December.
According to front-of-house engineer Phil Crumrine, the tour is carrying all production except FOH speakers, amps and drive rack; consoles (Yamaha PM5D-RH, FOH; Midas H3000, monitors) are rented from Clair Bros. The band is on Sennheiser 300 IEM G2 in-ear transmitters and Ultimate Ears UE-10 ear molds.
Front-of-house engineer Phil Crumrine
“As for my rack gear,” Crumrine says, “the only analog outboard gear is a Summit DCL-200 stereo tube compressor for the main mix and a Line 6 DL-4 pedal. Everything else is connected digitally: Alesis HD-24 hard disk recorder, HHB CDR-830 CD burner and M-Audio Audiophile USB interface for Smaart Live. Vocal mics are Neumann KMS 105s. Most of the vocal songs have three-part harmonies, and the band works the mics to blend the vocals in their in-ear monitors.
“Nickel Creek has everything I want from a band: incredible musicianship, strong vocal harmonies, great songwriting, unbelievable dynamics. They rehearse constantly and are obsessed with being in tune. It’s a challenge to get a big sound without a drummer, but it’s definitely worth the effort.”