The Kennedy Center

I’m With Her


All mainstays of the acoustic, folk, and roots music world, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O'Donovan crossed paths many times throughout their careers. So it comes as no surprise that, after an impromptu performance at the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival, all the pieces fell into place for these three acclaimed musicians to collaborate. They launched the I'm With Her Tour in 2015 at the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland; soon after, at Garrison Keillor's urging, they took the moniker as their group name. The trio traveled to Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom in April and May and to Japan in October. In between, they played a select number of U.S. festivals, hosted a broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, and capped the year with two New York City dates in December. In his review of their performance at the Bowery Ballroom, Jon Pareles of The New York Times refers to I'm With Her as "three Americana virtuosos" and goes on to say: "But I'm With Her is no casual jam session or songwriters' round table. Each song in the trio's generous set was meticulously arranged to make the most of the many ways the musicians could blend. Serene under-statement was the concert's hallmark; at times, the music was so quiet I could hear the club's floorboards creaking." Each of the artists has a new solo record release in 2016, so their appearance at American Acoustic is a rare opportunity to see them perform together this year.
Acclaimed songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sara Watkins's new album, Young In All The Wrong Ways, out July 1 on New West Records, sees her boldly stepping into the role of frontwoman following the collaborative groups of Watkins Family Hour and the Platinum-selling, Grammy Award–winning Nickel Creek, which she first formed with her brother Sean Watkins and Chris Thile when she was just eight years old. Easily her most cohesive and fully realized album of her solo career, it is also her most powerful, persona, and revealing. She wrote or co-wrote each of the 10 songs--a first for her. Watkins calls the new collection "a breakup album with myself..." and writing and recording these 10 intensely soul-baring songs was a means for her to process and mark the last couple years, which have been transformative. These songs contain some of the heaviest moments of her career, with eruptions of thrumming B3 organ and jagged electric guitar. But it is also quiet, vulnerable, and tender-hearted.
Sarah Jarosz combines the musical sensibilities she acquired while playing bluegrass music as a young girl in Texas, what she learned at the prestigious New England Conservatory as a vocal improvisation honors graduate, and the influence of her musical heroes and peers, to create her own unique voice. As evidenced by multiple Grammy and Americana Music nominations, Jarosz has succeeded in marrying her instrumental prowess, songwriting, and vocals in that place where contemporary folk, roots, and Americana music intersect. Her fourth album, Undercurrent, is a sublimely resonant song cycle anchored around a haunting quartet of songs written and performed solo by the artist: "Early Morning Light," "Everything to Hide," "Take Another Turn," and "Jacqueline." On Undercurrent, Jarosz moves into new territory, with songs that are her most personal to date and a record that ranges from intimate solo performances to delightful and unexpected explorations. The album captures her process of personal evolution as well as the inspirational nature of change.
Aoife O'Donovan's sophomore album, In the Magic Hour--produced by Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Neko Case)--is a 10-song album full of the singer's honeyed vocals mixed with gauzy, frictionless sounds: splashing cymbals, airy harmonies, the leisurely baritone musings of an electric guitar. Written in the wake of O'Donovan's grandfather's death, In the Magic Hour is her most introspective effort yet, an aching exploration of memory and mortality. In the Magic Hour "... evokes the reverberant chamber pop observations of Grizzly Bear … [and] the lush austerity of Alison Krauss." This follows her solo debut, Fossils, which garnered worldwide acclaim from The Guardian, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, among others. For more than a decade prior, O'Donovan wielded her instrument--as the lead singer of the Boston-based progressive string band Crooked Still--with tensile strength which The Washington Post describes as being "almost too gorgeous for its own good". She was a featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, the Grammy-winning album by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, and performed in the folk noir trio, Sometymes Why.
I’m With Her Tour