First up: Nickel Creek & Andrew Bird

Relentless innovators team up for the Big Sky Brewing opener July 8

On Stage

Two acoustic powerhouses perform at Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheater July 8: contemporary bluegrass trio Nickel Creek and indie-rock multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird. The doubleheader launches the Big Sky Brewing Summer Concert Series.

""I'm a songwriter and violinist, and I whistle." – Andrew Bird
“”I’m a songwriter and violinist, and I whistle.” – Andrew Bird

The award-winning trio Nickel Creek reemerged last year with their first album in nine years, Celebrants.  Bird dropped his most recent full-length, Outside Problems, last July.

Nickel Creek was formed by Chris Thile and siblings Sara and Sean Watkins in 1989, when they performed together as kids at That Pizza Place in Carlsbad, Calif. The three phenoms – Thile on mandolin, Sara on fiddle and Sean on guitar – were a hit on the bluegrass festival circuit.

Their fame jumped considerably after they teamed up with Alison Krauss, who produced a Grammy-nominated self-titled CD in 2000, toured with Lyle Lovett, and backed Dolly Parton at the 2001 Grammy Award. Their next endeavor, This Side, earned the group a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album, as did their fifth recording, Why Should the Fire Die?

The group took a hiatus before triumphantly returning with 2014’s A Dotted Line, and yet another break before releasing Celebrants – an album about human connection (written during the Covid pandemic) and praised for its complexity and virtuosity.

Chicago-based Andrew Bird, a restless, innovative multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, has released 16 studio albums and several live albums and EPs that span genres from swing to folk to indie rock. He’s known for his unique style of violin playing, accompanied by loop and effect pedals, whistling and his voice.

He’s sang and played in several jazz ensembles, launched his own swing group, and veered into indie rock. Bird’s 2019 release, My Finest Work Yet, was nominated for a 2020 Grammy for Best Folk Album.

He’s also appeared in film and on television, including for the fourth installment of “Fargo.”

“We can’t even begin to express our excitement to be back on the road with Andrew Bird!” said Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile in a statement about the tour. “Our only other tour together was almost 20 years ago, and he’s been a huge source of inspiration to us ever since. Relentlessly creative, always searching for that next unexpected melody or couplet, and what a performer. We can’t wait to catch up with him and all of you this summer!”

The summer concert series continues with The Avett Brothers, July 10, Dwight Yoakam with the Mavericks, July 18, and Koe Wetzel, Kolby Cooper and Kat Hasty, Aug. 7. For tickets, head to