By Donna O'Neil
Acclaimed bluegrass, folk and country solo artist Sara Watkins will bring her energetic fiddle playing, along with her singer and songwriting talents to the stage at the Franklin Theatre, Saturday, March 9. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show beginning at 8 p.m. In a recent phone interview, Watkins talked about her first appearance at the Franklin Theatre and her career, which includes her current solo tour and her Grammy-winning work as a member of the band Nickel Creek. Her sophomore solo album, “Sun Midnight Sun,” is available for download at www.sarawatkins.com.
WH: Growing up in California, what influences led you to the bluegrass, folk and country genres?
SW: That was my childhood, my upbringing. I was exposed to music as a child. My parents took me to hear a band called Bluegrass Etc. who played at a local pizza parlor every week. It was from that experience that I got the idea to perform. I loved watching them interact with the audience and it looked like so much fun.
WH: Is this your first appearance in Franklin? What are you expecting? And what can the audience expect?
SW: I think it is. I may have played in Franklin many years ago, but never at the Franklin Theatre. I have heard so many great things about the venue and especially the acoustics that I am really excited to perform there. As for the audience, they can expect a very lively show. It’s going to be a fun night. I am looking forward to coming to town. There will be some special musicians joining me on stage. We will be playing some older tunes and some new ones. Saturday’s performance is specifically catered for Franklin. It will be a lively night of originals, covers and interactive musical storytelling.
WH: Bob Dylan began his career as a folk singer, what role has his music played in your career?
SW: Tim O’Brien’s version of Bob Dylan’s music from the album “Red on Blonde” – a cover album of Dylan songs – had a big impact on my music. It defined the story in a song. Hearing Tim’s portrayal was my favorite. He was the perfect channel for me to hear. At age 15 Tim’s recording of these songs in his own style opened the channel in my brain; it led me to love a lot more bands that I never would have considered. Lyrically, it was a pivotal experience for me as a songwriter and a performer.
WH: Explain how modern troubadour/storyteller Jackson Browne was a strong influence on you.
SW: I have been out on tour with Jackson Browne a couple of times. Aside from his radio hits, I discovered a deep appreciation for his solo acoustic soulful performances. He has a really compelling voice, strong thoughtful guitar and the way he accompanies himself is very special. As a performer, I noticed each night he would play a song that was unique to that show. He dug into his repertoire and performed specifically to that night’s audience. I learned a lot from him.
Secondly, I developed a deep appreciation for the way he runs his business. He is musically inspirational, but to see how he runs everything, how he carries himself, how thoughtfully he represents himself and executes the art of the deal is respectful. I loved having the privilege of being on tour with him.
Sara Watkins will perform at the Franklin Theatre, 430 Main Street in Downtown Franklin, Saturday, March 9. Doors open at 7 p.m. Show begins at 8 p.m. Her show is presented by Jackson National Life, headquartered in Cool Springs. Tickets are available at $19.50 for classic admission, $25.50 for balcony and lounge and $35.50 for cabaret seating. For information on Sara Watkins, visit sarawatkins.com or view podcasts of The Watkins Family hour on iTunes.
Posted on: 3/7/2013