Bluegrass & Podcasts | Sound Stories & Interviews | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
Pin It

Bluegrass & Podcasts 

The former front man of Nickel Creek is paving new ground

Sean Watkins has been playing music for a long time. From starting Nickel Creek when he was 12, playing variety type shows with the Watkins Family Hour and now moving out into solo projects, Watkins has definitely made the rounds, with each stop leaving an impression that has helped him grow.

Bluegrass wasn't the norm in Southern California, but Sean Watkins fell in love with the genre regardless. - JASON QUIGLEY
  • Jason Quigley
  • Bluegrass wasn't the norm in Southern California, but Sean Watkins fell in love with the genre regardless.

"I had no idea that I would ever do music as a profession," says Watkins as he recalls first starting music with piano lessons at age 7. "My piano teacher's son was a mandolin player and had a weekly bluegrass show he would put on at a pizza place, which we would go to. So, I eventually fell in love with bluegrass and acoustic music."

He and his eventual Nickel Creek bandmate, Chris Thile, learned from the same music teacher, first meeting at the ages of 9 (Watkins) and 5 (Thile). Joining them would be Watkins' little sister, Sara, who was the same age as Thile. Even before Watkins was a teenager, Nickel Creek was starting to become a thing. The group started out playing on the weekends and making random appearances at festivals, growing to become more than they ever thought possible.

"We got out of high school and our voices stabilized and we started making records and touring really regularly," says Watkins. "It's been a really wild ride and I'm just very grateful to get to do this for a living."

After a very successful tenure with Nickel Creek (the band won a Grammy in 2002 for Best Contemporary Folk Album), Watkins is now out on a new path, navigating the solo world for a couple of years.

"My relationship with playing music for audiences has always been through the lens of a band. With that comes a lot of fun and shared responsibility for the success and non-successes. So, it makes it easier in a band when maybe a show doesn't go well or a record doesn't do as well as you hoped," Watkins says of the transition. "When you're solo it's just your name behind it. So, it's a little taxing at times—but it's also really rewarding to know you can do something like this on your own."

Currently on a quick West Coast run with The Bee Eaters, the two acts have actually been working on a new album together—half of which was recorded on a farm in Santa Barbara, California, and the other in a studio in Portland, Oregon. This collaboration marks the first time Watkins has recorded a solo album with the same band the whole way through.

"This will be a major return to my roots and the music I grew up with. It's the most personal, to me, recording that I've ever made. When I play with them it's really wild and fun."

The release for Watkins' next album, to be titled "This Is Who We Are," is going to be quite unique. He tells the Source that he plans to put it out as not just an album, but a podcast as well. Each episode will feature a song as the main point of discussion as Watkins is joined by people who relate to each piece of music. Watkins says he hopes to release it "in the next month or so," so be sure to keep an eye and ear out.

You can see Sean Watkins and The Bee Eaters perform at the final Sisters Saloon Summer Concert Series on Friday.

Sean Watkins w/ The Bee Eaters
Fri., Aug. 23, 7-10pm
Sisters Saloon
190 E Cascade Ave., Sisters

About The Author

Isaac Biehl

Isaac is living proof that "Iowa Nice" is actually a thing. A journalism graduate from Iowa State University, he regularly writes about music, the outdoors and the arts/culture scene. Isaac loves the Trail Blazers, backpacking and a good IPA. He plans to one day win Survivor. Your move, Jeff Probst...
Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Rob Fincham

Rob Fincham - Northside Bar & Grill

Fri., July 10, 8-10 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Sound Stories & Interviews

  • Live Music in Redmond

    • Jul 1, 2020
    Not every venue is capable of hosting live shows, but some businesses are getting the music going More »
  • From Canceled Shows to Online Debuts

    • Jun 24, 2020
    Alicia Viani's debut album is ready to have its moment More »
  • Reviving Live Music

    • Jun 17, 2020
    Excited to make its return to the stage, The Old Revival has tried to make the most of its time away More »
  • More »

Give Guide

View Online

More by Isaac Biehl

  • A Different Kind of Parade

    A Different Kind of Parade

    Redmond will keep the show moving this 4th of July with festive porches, shoebox floats and the community's creativity
    • Jul 1, 2020
  • Gray Butte for the Win

    Gray Butte for the Win

    A fun and beautiful excursion just outside of Redmond
    • Jul 1, 2020
  • Live Music in Redmond

    Live Music in Redmond

    Not every venue is capable of hosting live shows, but some businesses are getting the music going
    • Jul 1, 2020
  • More »
Source Podcast Header

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2020 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation