SUSPENDED Watkins Family Hour with Hawktail
Renowned bluegrass collaborative Watkins Family Hour to perform 4/11 in the Longworth-Anderson Series on Memorial Hall’s intimate stage, promoting their highly anticipated new album, brother sister.
Returning to the studio as Watkins Family Hour, Sean and Sara Watkins consider brother sister a duo-centric record—yet one that feels bigger than just two people. With Sean primarily on guitar and Sara on fiddle, and both sharing vocals, the siblings enlisted producer Mike Viola (Jenny Lewis, Mandy Moore, J.S. Ondara) and mixer-engineer Clay Blair to harness the energy and honesty of their live sound. The album is their first project since their self-titled debut in 2015.
For the first time, the Los Angeles-based siblings carved out time to write with each other. They took early versions of the new songs to Viola, who instinctively rearranged some of the song structures in an effort to draw attention to interesting lyrics or surprising arrangements.
Moving from one landscape to the next—literally and musically—is nothing new to Sean and Sara, who have performed separately and together for nearly their whole lives. Growing up near San Diego, they played countless shows at a local pizza place in Carlsbad, California, with their childhood friend, Chris Thile. As young adults, those three musicians broke out nationally as Nickel Creek, an acoustic ensemble that sold millions of albums, were nominated for 8 Grammy Awards (including a win for “Contemporary Folk Album”), and toured the world.
Encouraged by a local club owner in Los Angeles, Sean and Sara formed Watkins Family Hour in 2002 as an outlet to try out some original songs and a few covers that wouldn’t work in Nickel Creek. That club, Largo, has since become the home base for Watkins Family Hour, whose shows frequently pair musicians who seem to have little in common, yet find a shared language in their music.
With Nickel Creek on hiatus, Sean and Sara released multiple solo albums and pursued other collaborations, most recently with Sara’s involvement in the supergroup I’m With Her (alongside Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan). However, the siblings gravitated toward the idea of another Watkins Family Hour album after realizing that their calendars afforded them a rare opportunity to write, record, and tour together.
Their musical chemistry is clear. “It felt really good to dig into the potential of two people,” Sara says. “The arrangements and the writing were all focused on that. Listening now, I’m really proud of what we did. These are songs that would not have come out of either one of us individually, and it feels like a band sound, like this is what we do, the two of us.”
Hawktail is the instrumental acoustic quartet of fiddler Brittany Haas, bassist Paul Kowert, guitarist Jordan Tice, and mandolinist Dominick Leslie. Though at first glance it looks like an acoustic superpicker side-project, their all-original music is cohesive and unique, distinguishing them as an ensemble with a sound built from the ground up. Flush with orchestral sweeps and sparse vigils, with strains of the American South and the North Atlantic, this cosmopolitan sound is not what you’d expect from a string band.
They are already confirmed for their Telluride Bluegrass and Newport Folk debuts in 2020. 2019 festival appearances include Big Ears, Charm City Bluegrass, Strawberry Music, Northwest String Summit, Rocky Grass, Boats & Bluegrass, and more!
Be part of another Longworth-Anderson Series evening of great music, food, and drink. Complimentary pre-concert reception features live local music and light bites & beverage tastings from premier local restaurants and distributors. Reception runs from 6:30-8:00 p.m. and concert begins at 8:00 p.m.