By Sarah Anthony, Staff Writer

The first event of the Asbury Artist series kicked off Tuesday night with Grammy award-winning Chris Thile. Thile, a mandolinist known for his work with bands such as Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers, graced the Hughes Auditorium stage with his quirky personality and fast fingers.

Thile, originally from California, was inspired by folk concerts he attended with his parents as a child. He started playing the mandolin at age five, and has been working with Nickel Creek since age eight. His young talent was recognized at an early age, and he recorded his first instrumental album at age 13.

Those expecting a quiet, instrumental concert were in for a surprise when Thile hopped on stage. Thile’s voice, similar to Phil Collins, rang through Hughes. His opener, a song he wrote about Wilmore for the concert, quickly captivated the audience and had everyone on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what would come next.

“This is going to be fun!” He yelled from the stage.

In between songs, he described his thought process for writing each one. For his piece, “Daughter of Eve,” he pulled inspiration from the story of the Garden of Eden—after Adam and Eve had been banished. The audience laughed as he compared his song to a fan fiction of the famous Bible story while he did crazy motions and sound effects to add to his performance.

Thile played with passion, moving along with each piece according to its style—whether a folk ballad, indie love song or a classic sonata. He played 15 songs, varying from his work with Punch brothers to Johann Bach. He moved with the mandolin and demonstrated his skill and mastery of the instrument. His styles included fast picking styles similar to guitars or violin plucking, rhythmic beating and strumming. His dynamics moved from playing louder in more intense sections, quietly in others and pulling the audience in with him as faded songs out.

“This is going to be fun!” He yelled from the stage.

The crowd participated by clapping along. We were offered chances to sing along as well. He asked the audience what songs they wanted to hear, and finally did a mash-up of “Anabelle Lee” and “Lighthouse” which even he admits, did not work out so well. But after three different standing ovations, and an encore, Thile ended the concert with a fun folk song that had the crowd rushing to the reception to meet him and buy merchandise.