Month after month, for the past twelve years, people line up at the door to this intimate little theater in West Hollywood to experience something that is rare in the Los Angeles music scene. And I’m not just talking about folk music. I’m talking about experiencing music that is alive and in the moment. The Largo, historically known for it’s eyes-and-ears-only policy, does not permit photography or recording of any kind once you step through the theatre threshold to ensure the moments witnessed remain real and rare.
The Watkins Family (comprised of sibling duo, Sara and Sean, and whoever they bring for the evening) draws you into that mesmerizing moment when something familiar becomes something inventive. They are a group of highly practiced and talented musicians, who get together monthly to perform music that has never been performed before. Newgrass, american, folk – however you want to cut it, the bottom line is that these guys know how to raise an audience from their seats. Sara’s voice was both delicate and powerful and was almost as hauntingly emotional as the violin resting on her shoulder. Sean’s deeper vocals offered a perfect harmony that rounded out their music. Their communication on stage was light and humorous, and they made every attempt to involve the audience and the other musicians in their collaboration.
A stand-up bass player, pianist, and drummer complete the quintet. Their polished sound was a great testament to their life-long dedication to music, because most of these songs were rehearsed only an hour before the show. The crowd laughed when the siblings would debate keys, or when Sara would trail off to tell a story that she just couldn’t hold back. It was all very casual and their comfortable stage presence made it seem like they were just playing for a group of friends. Beth Orton was their guest star for the evening. She was delightful and played a beautiful and somber solo before she felt lonely asked the rest of the band to join her. By the end of the hour Noam Pikelny (of the Punch Brothers) made a surprise appearance! It almost didn’t seem fair to the rest of the world to have so many talented artists on one stage. The results were fresh, lively and couldn’t be replicated.
Sara and Sean were gracious enough to meet up with our photographer so we’d have photos to pair with this amazing experience.