Often collaborations of wildly talented people fall short of the pieces, or force an outcome that feels designed to an end. For the Watkins Family Hour, what began as friends jamming for the sake of it became a monthly residence at Los Angeles’ trendy music hub Largo. Before long the ragtag group, anchored by Nickel Creek’s Sarah and Sean Watkins, was attracting guests like Jackson Browne, Dawes and Fiona Apple.
Born out of a long-term residency gig at L.A.'s popular nightclub Largo, Watkins Family Hour is a sort of variety show and spontaneous jam session hosted by multi-instrumentalist siblings Sean and Sara Watkins, formerly of the progressive bluegrass group Nickel Creek. Since 2002, the Watkins siblings have been offered the Largo stage for one night a month to showcase new songs, collaborate with friends, play random covers, and essentially let their hair down in any way that pleases them. A hotspot for an eclectic swath of musicians and comics, Largo has generated a wide variety of unscripted Family Hour guest spots from people like Jackson Browne, John C.
Most people think of "records" as discrete objects, collections of smaller pieces strung together into a whole. But rarely do we think of records as records: documents of specific places, times, people, ideas. Watkins Family Hour accurately falls under both of those definitions. It’s an eponymous album born out of the monthly residency hosted by siblings Sean and Sara Watkins at Los Angeles’ Largo for more than a decade.
Sara and Sean Watkins have been playing regular shows at Los Angeles’ Largo club since roughly 2002. The Watkins Family Hour, as it’s called, has been a place for the siblings and their friends to try out new material, goof around on cover songs, and just play music with whoever shows up. It’s a gig that’s endured the siblings’ world tours as part of Nickel Creek as well as fit in between their various solo releases and side projects.
What began as an informal jam session, a safe place to test new material and just have fun, has turned into an album of equally casual charm. Sara and Sean Watkins, the siblings and multi-instrumentalists who first made their name with Nickel Creek, had been hosting a monthly variety show at Largo, the Los Angeles club, and decided to take it into a studio and on the road. Their new debut album, “Watkins Family Hour,” retains all the homespun intimacy of a bunch of musicians enjoying one another’s company and talent.