Set List Bonus: Watkins Family Hour At Largo At The Coronet
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By Erin Hanson
A friendly crowd entered the intimate 280-capacity Largo at the Coronet theater in Los Angeles on Aug. 22 to a soundtrack of '40s pre-show music. A representative from the venue welcomed the crowd and went into a well-versed introduction, urging patrons to stow their electronics as they "don't care for those here." Sara and Sean Watkins, considered "the first family of Largo," emerged onstage and welcomed the crowd to the theater, which serves as the home of their monthly Watkins Family Hour show. From the start, it was clear the audience was in for a casual and lighthearted evening of genuine music.
Newcomer Elizabeth "Z" Berg opened the night with four acoustic songs, including her "Charades" and "Killing Time," which showcased both her songwriting talents and quirky personality. The Watkins siblings then joined with special guests the Section Quartet for a string-heavy rendition of folk songs characterized by the strong harmonies of the evening's hosts. Sara and Sean Watkins alternated lead vocals on songs and displayed a conversational ease highlighting their familial relationship.
As the night continued, different groupings of performers gave authentic performances of their own songs as well as those of other artists. The evening was filled with spontaneity, with the performers deciding the songs moments before the first note. The Section Quartet played two songs in tribute to the late Elliott Smith with "Alameda" and "Angeles," as well a cover of Radiohead's "Karma Police." The Watkins siblings and their friends acknowledged some of their influences with covers that ranged from Bob Dylan's "Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)" to Charley Jordan's "Keep it Clean."
The camaraderie onstage was incredibly evident. The Watkins siblings didn't miss a beat when playing with seven-time GRAMMY nominee Jackson Browne. Browne prefaced their second performance, the Holy Modal Rounders' "If You Want To Be A Bird," by painting a picture of the social and musical landscape of '70s-era Laurel Canyon.
The stage was at its fullest when all 12 musicians covered Neil Young's "Out On The Weekend." They disappeared briefly before reuniting for an encore during which legendary pianist Benmont Tench joined for the last three songs, closing with Sara Watkins' up-tempo ballad "You And Me."
The musicianship on display throughout the evening was remarkable, featuring a variety of voices and instruments, including the unmatchable tone of the pedal steel guitar. The audience walked away knowing that they had witnessed something truly unique.
To catch the Watkins Family Hour at the Largo at the Coronet, click here for more information.
(Erin Hanson serves as the GRAMMY U Representative for The Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter. She is a live music enthusiast and a proud USC Trojan. Follow her @erin__hanson.)