Thile returns to Portland as host of 'Live From Here'
Chris Thile returns to familiar territory, when he brings his newly named "Live From Here" radio variety show to the Keller Auditorium, 2:45 p.m. Jan. 13.
It was called "A Prairie Home Companion" and once hosted by Garrison Keillor. In Thile's second season, the show changed its name for legal reasons.
Thile lived in Portland, as his wife, Claire Coffee, starred in the long-running NBC show "Grimm," which filmed in Portland. They were visiting Portland this week along with their young boy.
"We moved back to Brooklyn, but we miss it terribly," Thile says of Portland, where he and Coffee lived for five years before moving in February 2017. They visited with friends, ate at favorite restaurants and sipped coffee at favorite places.
He misses Portland for the intimacy and friendliness of people, saying that it seems heartfelt when somebody asks him, "What are you doing today?" Thile adds: "That's a citywide attitude. 'What are you making of your day?' I love that about this town."
A musician first and foremost, Thile was personally selected by Keillor to become the new host in fall of 2016. He's a multiple Grammy Awards winner and MacArthur fellow and member of Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek — he's a mandolin virtuoso, composer and vocalist, with a broad talent that includes classical, rock, jazz and bluegrass.
So, clearly, his show has evolved from Keillor's; the longtime host was more of homespun storyteller.
"If I was a storyteller, imagine the weight of comparisons," Thile says. "People will still compare, it's human nature."
Hosting the show doesn't feel strange to Thile, who, as a frontman for bands felt comfortable talking to an audience. He does enjoy being in places for more than a night or two for shows, as opposed to being in a travelling band. And, Thile likes the variety-show format.
"I get to put on 26 completely different shows," he says. "They have to be different. We're putting on new shows every week.
"I'm a performer, always have been," he adds. "My role as host of the show is a creative role more than curative role."
He's appearing in Portland with Tune-Yards, Willie Watson and The Fairfield Four, the Lucas Brothers and duet partner Madison Cunningham. The night will also feature the First-Call Radio Players, Tim Russell (man of a thousand voices), Serena Brook and sound effects wizard Fred Newman, as well as fan favorites — Instant Internet Song Request, a weekly birthday salute to musicians and Thile composing and performing a unique new song for the live broadcast.
His latest album, "Thanks for Listening," contains 10 studio reimaginings of "Songs of the Week" that he performed last season.
Tickets for $20 have been released for purchase. For more: www.portland5.com.
Fans had long identified with Keillor and "A Prairie Home Companion." But, along with Thile being the new host, a new name seems right — although it was changed for legal reasons, Thile says.
"It's a clean slate every week — 'Live From Here,'" he says. "That doesn't mean anything in particular, except the show is broadcast live ... entertaining people with no do-overs."