You very rarely have to ask me twice to join you at Largo, but in some instances, you don't even have to finish the sentence before the word "yes" pops out of my mouth. Largo on Fairfax's last stand would easily qualify as one of those situations, and I required no time at all to confirm my place on Heidi's reservation for the Watkins Family Hour.
Watkins Family Hour, Largo, April 24, 2008: Officially, this is the third Watkins Family Hour show I've attended, but they've popped up at so many other Largo gigs that their appearances tend to blur together. They're a very good example, however, of the Largo model at its ideal, highlighting both the artist(s) in the solo spotlight and a collaborative setting. They beg the question: Did the Watkinses take to Largo so well because of an inherent affinity for this setup, or did this setup make the Watkins Family Hour possible?
Perhaps someone else can answer definitively. All I know is that it works, and the Watkins Family Hour is another event that I'd easily recommend to anyone interested in the Largo experience.
Tonight, an entourage of familiar faces joined Sara and Sean onstage: Benmont Tench, Paul Bryan, and Greg Leisz. Later, Mike Wicher (on dobro), Gabe Wicher (on fiddle), and David Garza stepped up as well. I haven't been to enough Watkins Family Hour shows to know how many songs they repeat from week to week, but the tunes this night weren't the ones I'm used to hearing. As I recall, they presented a handful of songs either on or considered for Sara's solo album, Sean and Gabe's so-called hit "More Pretty Girls Than One," Jon Brion's "Trouble" (though Jon was not at the show that night), Sean and Paul on the Louvin Brothers' "I Like the Christian Life," and more.
The guest players made themselves known at the show as well. As always, the band members enjoyed generous soloing opportunities for each song, but they could be heard in more ways than one. Paul Bryan, for example, took the lead vocals on Gene Clark's "Why Not Your Baby" (my favorite song of the night), while Benmont was, well, all over the place. He sang and played piano, accompanied by Sara, on a ballad for someone on Valentine's Day, but unfortunately, we didn't hear his song about Leslie Feist. Apart from the rather somber tune as well as his always meticulous playing, Benmont was downright giddy, commenting on Sean's raspy voice and generally baiting Sara. He also played bass on a couple of songs. He clearly needs to tour with Mudcrutch more often!
They took some time trying to figure out how to end the night, spurning more common requests such as "Tall Buildings" and "Short People." They came to a consensus on "Cherokee Stomp," which allowed all the players to let their hair down, while simultaneously raising the roof. Yee-haw!