Chris Thile plays an outdoor solo concert at ArtsQuest thursday

Written by on April 15, 2021

Chris Thile plays an outdoor solo concert at ArtsQuest Thursday

By Brad Klein

April 15, 2021

Chris Thile. Photo | Courtesy of Chis Thile’s Facebook page.

Bethlehem-based ArtsQuest lost over a year of programming to the pandemic. Its “big three” events last year, MusikFest, OktoberFest and Christkindlmarkt lacked much of their live programming. But as the weather turns warmer, the organization is bringing back in-person concerts and events while following COVID protocols.

And among the first is a solo concert by mandolin virtuoso, Chris Thile, Thursday – outdoors at the SteelStacks Levitt Pavillion. Thile has a new album coming out called ‘Laysongs’. He spoke with WLVR’s Brad Klein.

Listen to the story.

Brad Klein

“Thile got his start in the band ‘Nickel Creek,’ went on to lead the ‘Punch Brothers,’ went on to win a MacArthur genius grant, and hosted the late great public radio music show, ‘Live from here.’ 

“The pandemic has been so tough for all performing artists. We’re still calculating the losses to performers and venues. Can you give me a positive to come out of this past year for you?”

Chris Thile

“I think, as you mentioned, it’s been tough for everyone I know. But also just about every musician I’ve talked to has been grateful for the kind of forced sabbatical. A lot of us, especially these days, cram our schedules chock full with a bunch of stuff, the things that you dream of doing when you’re little.” 


“Touring? Marketing the latest project? That sort of thing?”


“Yeah, and then it all comes to a screeching halt and there’s a chance to take a big step back and evaluate what it is that I want to be doing. And I know that a lot of my peers have been doing the same thing as I am up to this point: How am I doing on the happiness front as an artist and as a person?” 


“I was impressed that you used your time to really nail your sourdough bread recipe. I’m kidding. What you did was you recorded a solo album, right?”


“I did because you know, what else was I going to do? But actually, I’ve been meaning to do it for a long time. Solo performance has been a big part of my annual life.” 


“Well look, I’ve only listened to the title track of ‘Laysongs’ and to me it seems like a super personal, really almost spiritual, reflection on the pandemic that we’re still in. Am I wrong about that interpretation?” 


“No, you’re not at all. The irony is that I actually wrote that song pre-pandemic. But I went back and I did tweak it a little mid-pandemic. And this happens to me over and over again, where I’ll write a song and I’ve learned not to write specifically because you don’t want your song to be perishable. Topical maybe, but not perishable.”


“Well, it’s a haunting song and I can’t wait to hear the whole record. What should people expect at the show on Thursday night at ArtsQuest?” 


“Well, for one you should expect to be performed for by a very, very excited musician. You know, I have not gotten to play for my fellow human beings very often during this. And there’s another silver lining for you: We take for granted the things that we do all the time and I would love to think that I’ve always brought a lot of joy to performance scenarios.

So, I love performing for and with people and I love going to see live music with people. But of course, you can undervalue a thing that happens a lot and that I will never be guilty of that, I can tell you that right now.”


“Thanks for joining us Chris.”


“Thanks for having me, Brad.”


“Chris Thile is playing a solo show at the ArtsQuest Levitt Pavilion at 7 p.m. April 15. His new album, ‘Laysongs,’ is available for preorder and drops on June 4. This is WLVR News.

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