Reality Calls and I Just Let It Ring

On Friday, October 2, I attended the latest monthly installment of the Watkins Family Hour at Largo at the Coronet.   Special guest for the evening was Paul F. Tompkins, who has his own regular show at Largo titled “Spontaneation.” Sean and Sara Watkins were soon on stage and the three warmed up the crowd with a discussion of bug boxes, as Sara recalled a time she had a bug box when they played at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri when she was about 10 years old. This eventually morphed into the idea that the audience should identify the spirit insect of each member of the Family Hour band, which became a running gag for the evening.

The first song the siblings played was an instrumental possibly called “Appalachian Break” or “Appalachian Breakdown.” Sara sang a pretty song I am not familiar with including lyrics, “Made up my mind to go so far away, I’d head west…”.

Then their regular drummer, Don Heffington, and bass player, Sebastian Steinberg, joined the Watkinses on stage, along with David Garza, who has been occasionally sitting in on the piano during the recent Watkins Family Hour tour in place of usual piano man, Benmont Tench. With the full band, Sean sang his tune, “Since the Day I Was Born” from his album All I Do is Lie.  Sara answered with one of her original songs, “You and Me“, which is on her album Sun Midnight Sun.

Sean talked a little bit about going to his parents’ house regularly lately for songwriting sessions and sang one he penned recently, which began, “Come closer, right beside me, my love…” and is currently titled “I Am What You Want.” Then they launched into their cover of Stuart Hamblen‘s song “Remember Me,” which they had also played when they were the guests at Jon Brion‘s show the previous week. There followed another song I am not familiar with sung by Sara, lyrics included, “You needed me…I was gone for too long…I couldn’t be found…and you’re tired now…we can still win this.” After that they played their cover of Bob Dylan‘s “Highway 61 Revisited.”

David Garza then moved to front and center and sang a quirky, spooky, nearly tongue-twisting song, “The Scariest Halloween Song Ever” (follow the link for this one if you want a treat), with Paul returning to add a few extra “Halloweens” to the song. Next, Sara sang “Too Much,” a song written by David, which can be found on her self-titled album.  This stretch of music finished with a cover of the Everly Brothers song, “Poor Jenny,” which they had also played at Jon Brion’s show.

The musicians then left the stage as Paul returned to regale us with amusing stories inspired by his wife’s hometown of Sullivan’s Island, SC. When he finished, Sara and Paul sang a duet of The Mountain Goat‘s song, “No Children,” which I think actually works better as a couples’ duet.

David returned to the microphone to sing his version of Jimi Hendrix’s song “May This Be Love.” Sean then took up the lead, singing one of his songs from Nickel Creek, “Somebody More Like You.” They closed out the set with a recent WFH favorite, a cover of the Grateful Dead‘s “Brokedown Palace.”

For the encore, Largo-regular Jackson shouted out a request for “Reality Calls” (Sean’s song from his band Fiction Family) and had his wish granted, but not before Sara dropped his name from the stage as she quipped, “Oh yes, we know ALL of your names.” I’ve titled this post after the refrain for the song.

Following the main stage show, there was a set played in The Little Room by David Garza and Sean Watkins. David started playing on his own, singing a couple of his original songs. He is quite the wordsmith and fills his lyrics with a smattering of clever phrases and the story often twists and turns in ways the listener does not quite expect. I am not familiar enough with David’s music (and he has a vast back catalog, as you can see from his listings on iTunes and Bandcamp) to be able to know all of his song titles, but I’ll write what I know. The first song had lyrics of “Little Hurricane/Baby, Don’t Cry.” The second song started with “All the gardens died in the early freeze…”.

Sean joined David on The Little Room stage and they sang Bob Dylan’s “You’re Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go.” Then Sean led a traditional bluegrass number, though had trouble remembering all of the words to “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake.”

David then sang another one of his songs, “Smoochie Samba,” a song from David’s group Twang Twang Shock a Boom. David then took a quick minute to teach some chord changes to Sean before launching into the reggae-styled “Last Skank,” also from TTSB.

Sean asked for requests and was assigned “21st of May,” one of his songs off the latest Nickel Creek album A Dotted Line. David then rocked out with a cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s song “Pride and Joy,” which concluded Sean’s stint on stage.

David looked like he would have kept going all night, though he played three more songs. He sat down at the piano, playing mainly with his right hand, perhaps an improvised number. He referred to it as a “tone poem” when he finished. It included the lines “there’s a song trapped down in my heart…well you lost me at hello, but we found each other at goodbye…”. He began playing with his left hand as he stopped singing and finished with a flurry of notes. He switched back to his guitar, playing his song “Flower,” from his album This Euphoria.  He finished his set with a request, “Nashville Co-Write” which is an amusing number; why oh why, can’t I find it on the Internet!


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