Sara Watkins kicked off a months-long tour as special guest of Jackson Browne over the weekend, with performances in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. "Cheerful and charming, Watkins was totally at ease during her opening set," writes Charleston City Paper's T. Ballard Lesemann in a review of the latter. "Fresh from a Prairie Home Companion concert last week, she chatted with the audience, took requests, and kidded her bandmates ... Watkins also handled the melodies and harmonies with cool authority, and she dazzled with several fiddle solos that demonstrated her virtuosity."
The tour continues through the South this with performances at the Peace Center Concert Hall in Greenville, South Carolina, tonight, and the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, on Wednesday. The Nashville Scene recommends the concert, with writer Jewly Hight saying the songs on Watkins' new album, Sun Midnight Sun, come from a "sure-footed, self-aware" place, "no mild, dry affair either, but an elegantly visceral and rhythmically surprising one."
Sun Midnight Sun, Watkins' second solo album, features guest appearances by Jackson Browne, Fiona Apple, Sean Watkins, and more. The album, produced by Blake Mills, includes songs written by Watkins, several collaborations with Mills, songs by Dan Wilson and Willie Nelson, and a duet with Fiona Apple on The Everly Brothers' “You’re the One I Love.” Released on CD and digitally in May on Nonesuch Records, the album is set for release on vinyl next Tuesday, July 24, and is now available to pre-order in the Nonesuch Store.
As noted in the Charleston review, just before the launch of her tour with Jackson Browne, Watkins joined Garrison Keillor and the cast of A Prairie Home Companion for the final show of the program's summer season, recorded at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Friday for broadcast over the weekend. Her fellow special guests included esteemed actor Martin Sheen, singing sisters Jearlyn and Jevetta Steele, and soprano Ellie Dehn. The show is now available online; listen in at prairiehome.publicradio.org.
Tickets at Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street, 413/586-8686 and online at IHEG.com.