Sam Bush/Chris Thile | Carolina Theatre | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Sam Bush/Chris Thile 

When: Fri., Sept. 9, 8 p.m. and Mon., Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m. 2016
Price: $29-$66, $10-$69

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9/MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12

SAM BUSH/CHRIS THILE

The birth of bluegrass is largely credited to Bill Monroe, who took an eight-string instrument with an Italian pedigree and developed a whole new faction of American music. This week finds two of the instrument's best contemporary players in the area, both of whom have taken the mandolin and its bluegrass roots to magnificent ends.

The elder of the two is sixty-four-year-old Sam Bush, who infused bluegrass with loose, hippie aesthetics to forge newgrass in the early seventies. With New Grass Revival, Bush and company built a subgenre that added layers of jam band and rock ideologies the bluegrass bedrock, making for colorful, easygoing grooves that horrified some of the field's staunch purists. But in the decades since, Bush has gotten the last laugh—he's maintained a steady hold on his status as one of folk's finest players, as a solo artist and as a co-conspirator with the likes of David Grisman, Béla Fleck, and Edgar Meyer, in addition to appearing on dozens of other records. Bush's mandolin marks are as unique as they are ubiquitous.

Bush's booming career has helped pave the way for Chris Thile, a thirty-five-year-old player who first made waves as a child prodigy and with his Grammy-winning band, Nickel Creek. Thile is a direct descendant of Bush's ambitious and broad-minded approach to the mandolin, though he's never traded in Bush's brand of newgrass. Instead, Thile carries the torch of taking folk-based music to bold and unexplored places with his current ensemble, Punch Brothers, as well as on his own. Thile is a brilliant player whose honors include a MacArthur Fellowship in 2012. He can rip out a barn-burner version of a bluegrass standard before sliding into a Radiohead cover and topping off with a fluttering Bach partita, barely batting an eyelash as he jumps from one tune to the other. Genres don't exist for Thile as he romps across his fretboard, his fingers moving so fast that it becomes difficult to see them.

It's almost a shame that Bush and Thile aren't on the same bill—it would make for a hell of a two-for-one deal, and a duo set would be outright incredible. Still, this week affords the opportunity to witness two masters in action, the best in their business, continuing to push themselves to thrilling heights. —Allison Hussey

SAM BUSH
CAROLINA THEATRE, DURHAM
8 p.m., $29–$66, www.carolinatheatre.org

CHRIS THILE
UNC'S MEMORIAL HALL, CHAPEL HILL
7:30 p.m., $10–$69, www.carolinaperformingarts.org

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