When Bluegrass Meets Heavy Metal
Nickel Creek’s “Smoothie Song” With Metallica Bassist Robert Trujillo
By Max Stewart • Cover photo by Brantley Gutierrez
Back in 2002, progressive bluegrass outfit Nickel Creek teamed up with Robert Trujillo (yep, he’s the bassist of thrash titans Metallica) in the video of their instrumental song “Smoothie Song”. It is a bit odd seeing the four-string metal master trading in his heavy, distorted axe for an upright bass, but given that Trujillo co-produced the documentary Jaco about legendary jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius, we are willing to bet his music tastes aren’t limited to head bangers.
Mandolin prodigy Chris Thile (also of Punch Brothers) formed Nickel Creek along with siblings Sara Watkins (fiddle) and Sean Watkins (guitar) when they were all pre-teens in California. During “Smoothie Song”, Thile trades in the mandolin for a similar instrument known as a bouzouki, which is larger and has a lower pitch. Both Sara and Sean Watkins shine as Thile nimbly picks away throughout the composition, which represented a perfect stepping stone into the universe of bluegrass jamming for me when I saw it live in Nashville circa 2004.
Like the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, sometimes two very different ingredients are combined to form an enduring, delicious treat. As we all welcome the cool weather in at the start of fall, sit back and enjoy a moment where musicians from very different walks of musical life came together and created an unconventional, but oh so tasty, Blueberry-Avocado Smoothie.