Thanks to Barry Courter and the Times Free Press for highlighting Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek, who will be at the Legs on Saturday, April 9. Here’s the link, or read it below.
Sean Watkins finding his own way with ‘What To Fear’
› What: Sean Watkins in concert.
› When: 8 p.m. Saturday April 9.
› Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.
› Admission: $15.
› Phone: 423-624-5347.
› Website: www.barking legs.org.
Sean Watkins reviews
› “Watkins tells stories by not only being honest about his own life, but by also putting himself in other characters’ shoes. Empathy, sympathy and a sharp, observant eye have grown to become incredible vital tools in his songwriting.” — Consequence of Sound
› “Watkins merges a new batch of catchy hooks with engaging but not particularly heavy lyrics. It’s a natural next step in his musical journey, with stellar acoustic playing by world-class musicians.” — The Associated Press
› “[‘What To Fear’] is an articulate, razor-edge folk song, made up of equal parts melody and message.” — Rolling Stone
Sean Watkins is used to being on the road and playing music in front of an audience. But for most of the almost 30 years of playing, he’s been the supporting player, the collaborator, happy to be just slightly off to the side, ready to briefly take the spotlight, happy to let someone else make the tough decisions.
For about the last year or so, however, the guitarist/vocalist/songwriter for Nickel Creek, Works Progress Administration and Watkins Family Hour (with sister Sara), in addition to a bunch of other collaborations, has been front and center for his own solo record and tour. He recorded four other solo albums before releasing “What To Fear” earlier this year, and did some small tours, but this is a little more serious. In fact, he hadn’t recorded a solo record in the decade prior to this one, instead keeping busy playing in various groups and on other people’s works.
“A few years ago, I got a wild hair to do things my own way, and it’s been really fun,” he says. “It’s fun and definitely different than touring in a band. The venues are smaller. Everything shrinks, really, but it’s fun to figure out what you can do and who you are. You can do anything when you are solo.”
Just because things are done on a smaller scale doesn’t mean the music isn’t great or the excitement level isn’t high, he says.
“I don’t gauge by the tour bus or the hotels,” he says. “I’ve played bigger tours where the hotels were very nice and the tours were not nice.”
Watkins says the desire to be in charge carries over into the studio as well.
“I do like stepping up to the plate and making the decisions,” he says.
“I’m 39, and I feel more comfortable in my decision making and being the one in charge.”
Watkins says he wanted a “very acoustic-oriented bluegrass record” for “What To Fear.” It helped that he enlisted the services of Northern Californian trio Bee Eaters to help flesh out the sound he wanted. Sara Watkins also makes an appearance.
“I am fortunate to have some great musical friends,” he says.
“I’m very happy with the result. It came together once we figured out the musical direction.”
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-75-6354.