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Sara Watkins at The Ark, 3 Things To Know
A decade ago Sara Watkins was known as one-third of Nickel Creek.
Now it's much more.
The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has released three solo albums, including last year's "Young In All The Wrong Places." She also tours periodically with Jackson Browne, co-leads the Watkins Family Hour with brother Sean Watkins and is part of the all-star Works Progress Administration. And you'll find her in the guest credits for artists such as John Mayer, the Decemberists and Switchfoot's Jon Foreman.
She also became the first woman to ever win the Instrumentalist of the Year category at the 2016 Americana Awards and Honors.
Watkins, 35, is continuing her campaign for "Young In All The Wrong Places" this year, with open ended tour plans as well as a spring stint with Browne. We caught up to her at home in California -- with, she says, clothes for the tour in the dryer...
Since the album's release, Watkins says that "there hasn't been any huge breakaway moments or standouts." Rather, she notes, "I've had a lot of great feedback for each of the songs from audience members. On some albums there are songs that are surprising, that end up being standouts to the audience that you didn't expect. I haven't had any of that with this album; There's really been a solid response to all the songs. It feels like these songs are reaching people in a way that's quite specific and particular to their lives, which is ideal. You want to write songs that are relatable, obviously."
Watkins has a specific creative goal in mind for "Young In All The Wrong Ways," which was produced by Rochester Adams High School alumnus Joe Henry. "I wanted to return to live performance in the studio," she explains. "My second album, "Sun Midnight Sun," was a little more built-up vertically, with a lot of exploration in the studio. That was fun...but for this album I really wanted to have the performances of these guys and have these songs come to life with the band in the room. I didn't play them very much at all before going into the studio; I just wanted to take the band in and let them bloom right there in the studio. I think there's a discovery and an excitement you can hear with all of us reacting to each other and reacting to the moment."
Watkins doesn't have much specifically scheduled for anything other than her own shows and the upcoming dates with Browne. But she anticipates more work ahead, at some point, with Nickel Creek and the Watkins Family Hour band, and she promises "some new projects" during the coming year. "I love collaborating. I love bands. I always say if you're in one band you should be in two, because it does make all the difference," Watkins says. "It's great to be able to do all these things and be challenged by other people's ideas. The fact that I can do all that knowing that I also get to say what I want to say on my albums and dig in and pursue a solo record is a real privilege. That diversity is really crucial."
Sara Watkins and Longley
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22.
The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor.
Tickets are $25.
Call 734-761-1800 or visit theark.org.
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