From the opener Mikaela Davis, to Sara’s shiny jacket, Watkins show on October 5th shone in the most unexpected of ways
During my time at The Knockturnal, I’ve been to a number of shows, several of them at the Bowery.
I’ve never heard anything like Mikaela Davis.
If you were downstairs at the Bowery grabbing a beer, or if you happened to close your eyes as you walked onto the main floor, you may not have been able to make out Mikaela’s main muse. But don’t you dare close them, lest you miss Davis’ magnificent strumming and plucking on a harp twice as big as her, and the display of an amazing colored shawl to boot. The kind of melodies Mikaela can put together on that instrument are mesmerizing, mystical, and incredible. It was an astonishingly beautiful performance that will stay with me, and apparently only me, for now: Mikaela performed tracks only available on a CD which has with her at performances. So, D.C., you’re up next, as that’s the next, and last stop, on her tour supporting Sara Watkins.
Sara Watkins, as she reminded us on stage, “grew up” in band called Nickel Creek Alongside Chris Thile, current host of A Prairie Home Companion, and brother, Sean Watkins, the Grammy award winning trio is practically a household name. It’s hard to step out after that kind of recognition beyond the traditional instrument people associate you with. And, indeed where we expected Sara to be the strongest, singing the songs off her recent solo effort, she did not shine as much (even though her gold jacket did). She is at her best with high energy numbers, tapping her boots and flinging her bow, bouncing between playing her fiddle and singing with ease. Her set included a surprise Nickel Creek number suggested by the audience. The trajectory quickly changed, even though the performance was followed by a bit of trepidation. “Please don’t put that online,” Watkins pleaded, “People will wondered what happened!”
But what did happen was truly magical: Watkins played “Destination,” alone, on the ukulele. And that wouldn’t be the only surprise: The last time The Knockturnal caught Sara Watkins at the Bowery, she popped onstage with Sarah Jarosz. And our not-so-secret hopes were answered as Sarah joined the other Sara on stage.
Where Watkins truly shines is her writing, those lyrics cutting through the lights of the Bowery Ballroom. “We can’t have lost you yet,” she sings, and truly she is right. Sara Watkins is there when we need her bringing her wit, her prose, and her musical skills.