Songwriters In The Round feat. Glen Phillips, Sean Watkins, Aaron Embry, Garrison Starr, & Z Berg
Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:30 pmSOhO Restaurant and Music Club
This event is all ages
SOhO's Songwriters In The Round series returns on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 boasting a stellar lineup which includes: Glen Phillips (Toad & The Wet Sprocket), Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), Aaron Embry (Elliot Smith, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros), Garrison Starr, & Z Berg!
This is a seated dinner show in the stage room. Space is limited.https://www.sohosb.com/event/1761662/
After Toad’s breakup, Glen launched his solo career with the 2001 CD Abulum, for which he was praised by Nashville’s Rage Magazine as “one of the premier pop songwriters of his generation.”
In 2003 Glen was commissioned by Titanic director James Cameron to write the song “Departure,” featured in Cameron’s IMAX film Ghosts of the Abyss. Glen also performed in 2003 on albums by The Ataris and Sean Watkins.
In 2004 Glen released his collaboration with Grammy winners Nickel Creek under the name “Mutual Admiration Society,” on the Sugar Hill label.
[An] eleven-track marvel … shaded with plenty of subtle nuance that shimmers in all the right places. Phillips’ voice has never sounded better.
—The Music Box
In 2005 Glen released Winter Pays For Summer on Lost Highway Records, with appearances by Jon Brion, Ben Folds, and Pete Thomas of Elvis Costello & The Attractions.
Whether they're power pop tunes with catchy choruses or restive waltzes, the songs on Winter Pays for Summer are smart, honest and, ultimately, hopeful. And that's, as one song puts it, ‘a lot to be thankful for.’
In 2006 Phillips released Mr. Lemons on his own Umami label.
After opting for a lush and refined sound on his last record … Phillips spins the production knobs to zero on his third solo record. [Its songs] … are chiefly built around Phillips’ honey-dipped voice and a lonely guitar, throwing a bone to the legion of fans that prefer his lone-man live performances.
—Amazon.com, Editorial Review
In 2008 Glen released his concept album about space travel, Secrets of the New Explorers.
Secrets … is a brilliant piece of music … The songs are beautiful, and the closing track “A Dream” is sparse loveliness at its finest, reminding the listener once more why they came to fall in love with the music of Glen Phillips in the first place.
In 2009 Glen released the first album by, and began extensive touring with, his new supergroup: Works Progress Administration (“WPA”). The group is a collaborative which also includes Sara and Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello & the Attractions), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), Luke Bulla (Ricky Skaggs), et al.
The crisp geniality of progressive bluegrass and the polished heartache of modern country both have a home in WPA.
—The New York Times
In praise of the group’s musical diversity and the success of its eclectic lineup of talent, the Washington Post review notes, simply, “WPA is proof there's no solid formula for making the best music.”
2013 brought the release of “New Constellation,” Toad The Wet Sprocket’s first new studio album in fifteen years, a perfect return to form for a band whose trademark combination of lyricism and brainpower has magicked legions of admirers into truly undying fans.
Older, wiser, and with a newfound hopefulness that wasn't there in their younger days, Toad deliver [in “New Constellation”] an uncluttered and thoughtful next step of their ongoing songcraft.
As a writer, Watkins deftly juggles the observational and the autobiographical, convincingly taking on the personalities of others – a stalker, a preacher, a cynical newscaster – and then juxtaposing them with a voice that is clearly his own. Watkins’ singing unites disparate narrative threads; he’s disarmingly honest and sympathetic, no matter whom the character he is channeling might be. Similarly, he has managed to take the work of his acoustic collaborators - -the gifted young Northern Californian trio, Bee Eaters – with the robust bass and drums combo of Matt Chamberlain and Mike Elizondo.
The title track starts off in a deceptively simple way, just Watkins’ plaintive voice and acoustic guitar, before the band kicks in, bolstered by a dreamy, Mellotron-generated string section. It’s ominous, compelling and surprisingly topical. Watkins could be echoing the words of an evangelist, a sensationalist newscaster, or a fear-mongering political candidate. Watkins quips, “I kind of lucked out with that. I started writing before all the campaign stuff was happening. But something like that is always happening.”
Conversely, “Last Time For Everything” is “a mostly true story, from back in my early to mid twenties. The concept of ‘a last time for everything’ – a friend of mine said that once and I thought, there must be a song with that title. There wasn’t any song that I could find so I wrote it. The first thing that comes to mind with a phrase like that would be something like ‘the last time you saw someone’ but that felt cheap and sentimental. I wanted to celebrate the other side of it, the things that you are never going to do again and be grateful for that, the mistakes from the past, analyzing what you’ve done and sussing out what to keep and what to let go.”
Watkins began composing these new songs as he toured in support of All I Do Is Lie and prepared to hit the road for the first time with Watkins Family Hour, a project that until then had mostly stayed rooted at Largo, the group’s favored venue in Los Angeles. Watkins initially envisioned the album as an acoustic string-band session and reached out to the Bee Eaters, a trio he’d become acquainted with after participating in bluegrass camps they conducted in Northern California. Bee Eaters are lead by Tashina Clarridge on violin and her brother Tristan on cello. Simon Chrisman plays hammer dulcimer with them, and his instrument gives both a percussive and melodic underpinning to several of these tracks. But, as Watkins’ songs developed further in the writing stage, he realized he also wanted to employ a rhythm section, and called on his friends, bassist Elizondo and drummer Chamberlain, who each boast a lengthy list of credits, from hip hop to rock to jazz. Says Watkins, “It’s mind-blowing how good they are.”
Watkins’ original idea was to cut tracks separately with these two groups of musicians. But he found himself with a few days of studio time and decided to record the same four songs with both lineups and then determine what configuration worked best for each tune. What he discovered was that these two approaches weren’t mutually exclusive. By combining elements from each session he came up with a unique sound, one that helped define, in a larger sense, where Watkins himself had arrived as a solo musician. As he explains, “I wanted to highlight where I come from musically, the strings and the solos and I wanted this album to more guitar oriented than my last one. I wanted this record to highlight my musical strengths but without getting to comfortable. I really enjoy music that it is, at once, satisfying and surprising. So this record is my attempt at approaching that balancing point between reaching forward and experimenting musically while also celebrating where I come from with regard to the acoustic, bluegrass side of the spectrum."
Unlike most of his peers, Watkins has been a performer for more than 25 years. He was a mere 12 years old when he played his first gig in Nickel Creek, with sister Sara on fiddle and Chris Thile on mandolin, at a San Diego pizza parlor. The trio’s star ascended quickly; within a few years, a progressive bluegrass following grew into a large mainstream audience. Its 2002 album, This Side, garnered a Best Contemporary Folk Album Grammy. Since then, Watkins has released discs with Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman as the duo Fiction Family and with fellow guitarist Glen Phillips as Works Progress Administration, an eight-piece band featuring a stellar lineup of fellow L.A. session players. He also managed to release three solo efforts along the way. The Watkins Family Hour began as an informal event at Largo, where Sean and Sara could carouse on stage with an ever-changing group of like-minded friends. A core group of musicians became a regular part of the festivities, including pianist Benmont Tench, bassist Sebastian Steinberg and singer Fiona Apple. Together they recorded The Watkins Family Hour disc last year and took their convivial show on the road. What To Fear includes guest-star turns from Sara, as well as Tench, Steinberg and Petra Haden. In fact, the instrumental “Local Honey” was originally written as a kind of Family Hour theme song, for the live show and the group’s podcast.
Having friends and family on board has long been a hallmark of every Watkins project. He’s also been regularly invited to record and tour with many other musicians, among them Jackson Browne and Lyle Lovett. But What To Fear is all about Sean Watkins himself, front and center, as his songwriting matures and his persona as a solo performer blooms.
“For the longest time I didn’t feel comfortable in that role, “Watkins admits. “I loved being in bands. But now that I’ve done songs that I really like-- I’m proud of my last one, and even prouder of this one --that makes a big difference when you’re traveling solo, stepping on stage by yourself. It’s fun to go out on stage – anything is possible. It’s gone from feeling daunting to being hopeful and free.”
Known for her vibrant and impassioned live performances, Starr’s shows have been described as “marrying pop smarts and Americana grit with a voice of remarkable power and clarity”(gomemphis.com 2012).
Starr is a full time songwriter in Los Angeles whose songs have been featured on numerous TV shows and commercials. She regularly collaborates with various artists on projects and has found great success writing for TV and film.
In 2016, Starr collaborated with long time friend, Margaret Cho, and produced “American Myth.” Starr also co-wrote, played guitar and sang on the record. The album was nominated for a Grammy in the Comedy category.
Garrison's love for truth-telling, good whiskey and human connection has made her a darling of the singer-songwriter world.
SOhO Restaurant and Music Club
1221 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA, 93101