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Chris Thile And Michael Daves: Tiny Desk Concert

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23 min 38 sec

June 13, 2011 Thile and Daves play the traditional bluegrass music of icons Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs with New York City intensity. Watch the dexterous duo perform songs from Sleep With One Eye Open at the NPR Music offices.

Chris Thile and Michael Daves drove their modest rental car into the NPR parking lot, at which point Daves grabbed his guitar and Thile grabbed his mandolin. "I've never traveled this light before," Thile said. In fact, the first time I met him, Thile was on a tour bus larger in length than the NPR music offices.

Back then, he was touring with his childhood bandmates in Nickel Creek. On this day, he and Daves are out on the road honoring the music of Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and other early bluegrass greats. What stands out between these two musicians when they play traditional music — as you'll see and hear during this Tiny Desk Concert — is the level of extremity they achieve. This is small-town music with New York City intensity.

Daves and Thile met in New York during a midweek jam session at the now-closed Baggot Inn in the West Village. Daves is a jazz lover who grew up playing bluegrass in Atlanta, but the first jams the two made together took them down musical roads neither had traveled. Eventually, they took their project to Jack White's Third Man Records studios, first only to record a 45. But, as it turned out, the pair recorded more than 20 tunes, with 16 making it onto a recent full-length album called Sleep With One Eye Open. Watch those fingers!

Set List
  • "Sleep With One Eye Open"
  • "Rabbit In The Log"
  • "Bury Me Beneath The Willow"
  • "Billy In The Lowground"
  • "It Takes One To Know One"
  • "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms"
Credits

Michael Katzif (cameras); edited by Julian Boilen; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Michael Katzif

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