A few years ago we recorded a great live session during Celtic Connections with Sara Watkins where she came in to perform some songs and have a chat about her debut solo album, ‘Sun Midnight Sun.’ She looked a little tired and I enquired if she’d was suffering from jet-lag. She demurred and sheepishly confessed she’d arrived the previous day and gone straight up to the late night Celtic Connections club and been playing fiddle till four in the morning. On that session I also remember our engineer mic-ing up her feet so we could catch the percussion of her stomp as she played and sang. Glorious it was too.
Sara was only twelve years old when the first Nickel Creek album came out in 1993. The group comprised Sara, her brother Sean Watkins on guitar and vocals and Chris Thile on mandolin and vocals. As Nickel Creek they had some considerable success including two Grammy nominations and the deep respect of the bluegrass community. Since that time all three have gone on to forge interesting careers. Sara has produced a number of solo records as well as hooking up with Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan in I’m With Her. Her brother Sean has gone on to form a one off supergroup (including Sara) and regularly hosts the Watkins Family Hour in LA where a selection of local musicians contribute to loose musical evenings which have now spawned their own albums. Chris Thile, the third member of the trio, went on to form Punch Brothers, collaborate on a million other projects and now hosts Live From Here previously known as The Prairie Home Companion...one of America’s most loved musical radio shows.
So, on this Tuesday’s Another Country we have a Watkins themed hour of our own as we catch up with their new album, their collaboration with Irish singer Ultan Conlon and the new recording with Sara Jarosz and the many other Watkins connections we think worthy of celebrating. We think you’ll enjoy the extended rabbit hole we aim to descend.
In our continuing series of lockdown conversations we catch up with our old friend Ross Wilson aka Blue Rose Code who has just made a new album which will surface very soon. Ross, like many other friends of the show, is unable to continue his live work so we have asked a few AC questions to focus a little on his music and how we can all best access what he’s doing at this time. Ross has some beautiful thoughts to share about his new single Starlit, his forthcoming album, ‘With Healing Of The Deepest Kind’ and his own coping mechanism for surviving isolation. It’s good to hear too as we know none of this is easy for any of us, despite the bland platitudes we hear on various forms of soc-med.
Nanci Griffith once sang, ‘when you can’t find a friend, you’ve still got the radio,’ and I feel similarly. I have some great friends listening in and want to thank you for that my friends. More than any other time we need the radio and this radio presenter needs you. We’ll play a little Nanci this Tuesday night. We’ll have some great records too from Jason Isbell, The Statler Brothers, Lori Mckenna and Little Big Town. We’re live on BBC Radio Scotland this Tuesday evening from five past eight. Join me them if you can.