The Watkins Family Hour: A Band of Angels

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A name is powerful; it brings meaning to an otherwise empty space or thought. The Watkins Family Hour conjures an older time that harkens back to the Grand Ole Opry or the Johnny Cash show, but with a contemporary twist of new wave bluegrass and Americana goodness. Friday August 14th at the Freight and Salvage was a night to behold. Former Nickel Creek founders Sean and Sara Watkins front the Watkins Family Hour in addition with Alt rock royalty, Fiona Apple. One could only describe the band makeup as eclectic, but there was something that begged to be heard and experienced.

Sean and Sara took to the stage wordlessly, her fiddle in hand and his vintage Gibson J-45 at the ready. The silence was broken by a fluttering melody from the movement of her bow as she carved the stage with a dance that was punctuated by her stomps. Sean’s clean picking and slides rang out and entranced the crowd. We were in heaven and the Watkins were our host of Angels.

The second tune brought Fiona to the stage and the rest of the Watkins Family Band. It began driving like an old country tune but with the soul of Motown. Fiona’s voice swirled like smoke through the auditorium and intertwined with Sara’s until the two became one. The crowd was gripped and silent until the song’s break where Fiona wailed “Like A Goddamn Fool I Introduced You” –the crowd shouted in excitement as if we saw history being made.

Like a true old timey family hour, the band took a break to make way for folk singer Tom Brosseau. Tom’s quiet Midwest nature and quirky humor were the perfect breath that was needed for the night. The strings of his guitar cut the silence in the room gently and as he finished his last tune the room was in quiet anticipation for what was to come.

The night continued as each member of the Watkins Family Hour took a place in the round of leading a song. From Roger Miller to Bob Schneider to the Boswell Sisters, the air was filled with a blend of sweat, soul, love, longing, and laughter until the band took it’s original form to perform one last tune. Like the leader of a church choir, Sara got every member of the audience to sing along. It was truly a celebration and each song of the night accomplished its task in drawing the people of the occasion together.

The Watkins Family Hour just released their debut Album “The Watkins Family Hour.” It’ll give you a glimpse of greatness.