It’s been just over twenty years since powerhouse musical siblings Sara and Sean Watkins began their Watkins Family Hour shows at L.A.’s beloved Largo nightclub. Two decades, two studio albums, and hundreds of performances later, the two are taking stock of the ever-evolving community of musicians and music lovers the project helped build. As part of that reflection, Watkins Family Hour is releasing its third studio album, Vol. II. The collection features a number of longtime friends of the show—Fiona Apple, Jon Brion, Jackson Browne, Madison Cunningham, Lucius, Gaby Moreno, Benmont Tench, and Willie Watson, to name a few—joining Sean and Sara across eleven tracks that encapsulate where Watkins Family Hour started, how the project grew, and where it could be headed in the future.
Today, in addition to announcing the forthcoming album, Watkins Family Hour shared a taste of Vol. II with “Hypnotized,” a disjointedly trippy Tune-Yards number turned articulate demonstration of just how good Watkins Family Hour is at reimagining songs; a fine balance of the source material and the Watkins’ now-signature sound. “While on tour for our previous record, we heard this Tune-Yards song on the radio and then proceeded to listen to it just about every day after that while driving to the next town,” Sara and Sean remember. “Their version is so beautifully intricate and wild. We knew it would be a challenge, but it became apparent we needed to learn the dang thing ourselves and record it.” This version of “Hypnotized” from Vol. II is rounded out by the drums and bass of Griffin Goldsmith (Dawes) and Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing, Fiona Apple, Blake Mills), respectively, who, in the words of Sean and Sara, “brought such a deep and mysterious feel to it.”
Fans can hear “Hypnotized” now at this link and pre-order or pre-save Vol. II ahead of its August 19th release date right here. Watkins Family Hour is set to appear at High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California, over the weekend of June 30-July 3. A full list of tour dates can be found below or at watkinsfamilyhour.com/tour.
More About Vol. II: Vol. II follows Watkins Family Hour’s sophomore album Brother Sister, which they released as the COVID-19 pandemic began taking hold of the globe and, in turn, shut down the live music industry. That record was, serendipitously, a quieter affair, showcasing the musical interplay between Sara and Sean that keeps the Family Hour heart beating. In many ways, it’s also a successor to Watkins Family Hour, the self-titled 2015 album that introduced the band to a broader audience and sent them, along with some of their closest collaborators, out on the road to tour.
Sean and Sara recorded Vol. II in January of 2022. The siblings and their guests recorded the entire LP in just three days, decamping at the historic East West Studio in Los Angeles with producers David Boucher and Tyler Chester. While plotting the project, the pair had a deep roster of past Family Hour guests to choose from, a process that also contributed to song selection for the album.
“A lot of the strategy was marrying the songs to the guests that we wanted to be part of the record,” Sara says. “So we knew, for example, that Willie Watson was somebody who we wanted to have on the record because we have such a long history with him specifically. So we did the Jim and Jesse song ‘She Left Me Standing on the Mountain’ with Gabe Witcher and Willie, who are both part of the foundation of the Family Hour.”
While Vol. II is certainly a celebration of the band’s collaborative show itself, it’s also a tribute to Largo, the beloved Los Angeles venue that first hosted them and is an essential hub of the city’s creative community. “We wanted to capture what we’ve done over the years, but also capture the process that is continually at work, which is this intermingling of the musical community here in Los Angeles that surrounds Largo.”
As both Sean and Sara continue to work on their own solo music, as well as with their other bands like Nickel Creek and I’m With Her, Watkins Family Hour remains an invaluable resource and respite for them both, offering a familiar but ever-evolving space to test new ideas, meet new collaborators and, most importantly, have a good time doing what they love.
“It’s been really exciting to be part of this thing that is happening and growing and enables us to dig deep into this musical community,” Sean says. “The consistency has been invaluable to both of us, as musicians.” Sara adds, “But also, in life, the Family Hour has been and continues to be a huge part of making us feel anchored in the crazy city of Los Angeles.”
Vol. II Tracklist:
The Way I Feel Inside (Ft. Lucius)
Pitseleh (Feat. Madison Cunningham)
Thanks a Lot (Ft. Jon Brion)
The Late Show (Ft. Jackson Browne)
Tennessee Waltz (Ft. Benmont Tench)
She Left Me Standing on the Mountain (Ft. Willie Watson)
We Were Meant to Be Together
On the Outside (Ft. Gaby Moreno)
(Remember Me) I’m the One Who Loves You (Ft. Fiona Apple)
Grief and Praise (Ft. Madison Cunningham)
Catch Watkins Family Hour On Tour:
June 30 - Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA - Folktale Winery
July 2-3 - Quincy, CA - High Sierra Music Festival
July 10 - Novato, CA - HopMonk Tavern
Aug. 13 - Lexington, VA - Lime Kiln Theater
Sept. 13-17 - Nashville, TN - Americana Fest
Nov. 13 - Beaverton, OR - The Reser
For all tour dates and ticket information, please visit watkinsfamilyhour.com/tour.