Thanks to the Times Free Press and Casey Phillips for this interview with Sean Watkins, who will be at Barking Legs tonight with his trio.
Nickel Creek’s Sean Watkins brings solo tour to Barking Legs – May 21
BY CASEY PHILLIPS ARTICLE POSTED ON THU. MAY 21ST, 2015
› What: Sean Watkins in concert
› When: 7:30 p.m. today, May 21
› Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.
› Admission: $15
› Phone: 423-624-5347
› Artist website: www.seanwatkins.com
› Venue website: www.barkinglegs.org
2001: “Let It Fall”
2003: “26 Miles”
2006: “Blinders On”
2014: “All I Do Is Lie”
Considering he’s been playing music professionally for more than a quarter of a century, it seems odd that Sean Watkins sounds so excited at the prospect of a tour.
But for the vast majority of his career, the singer/songwriter/flatpicking guitarist has had to share the stage with others, whether as a co-founder of Grammy Award-winning progressive folk trio Nickel Creek or as a member of a handful of collaborative side projects.
For Watkins, the solo tours he’s been engaged in this year are a novelty, a chance to stand in the full glare of the spotlight and dictate the arc of a performance. So far, he says, it’s been a rewarding experience.
“It’s a short run, but it’s been going really great,” he says while en route to a show in Cincinnati. “It’s been really fun to do what I want to do and take left turns and interact with the audience in a new way. That’s been exciting.”
Tonight, May 21, Watkins will perform at Barking Legs Theater alongside guitarist/vocalist Dominique Arciero and bassist/pianist Tyler Chester, with whom he collaborates in California-based indie folk ensemble Fiction Family.
Material by Fiction Family and Nickel Creek will probably appear in the set, Watkins says, but the emphasis will be on promoting the material off his fourth solo record, “All I Do Is Lie,” released last June.
Watkins’ three previous solo releases had been published during the height of Nickel Creek’s popularity. The group’s busy schedule and his sense of dissatisfaction with the quality of the songs made touring impractical, he says.
In 2007, however, Nickel Creek took a seven-year break from performing after a Farewell (For Now) Tour that included a show in Chattanooga at the Tivoli Theatre. During this time, Watkins says, band members devoted themselves to “self-rediscovery,” and it was during this period that he wrote the material for “All I Do Is Lie.”
This time, he says, he had the sense that the songs had more staying power — “a longer shelf life than my songs in the past” — so he decided the time was ripe to hit the road to spread the word about his solo endeavors. Despite the difficulties he expected to face as a solo artist coming off a successful, established band, he’s found that audiences are showing their support in enthusiastic fashion.
“I’m just kind of thinking of this initial run as sort of an investment, a chance to go out and shake hands with people and let them know I’m alive and well and can play by myself,” he laughs. “It’s been really gratifying to be able to do that and to feel like I can stand on my own two feet that and put on a show that people more or less enjoy.
“A lot of people go out on the road solo apart from a band that may be successful, and it’s harder than you think. … I’m not surprised [by the response]; I’m just grateful.”
Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.