On Stage: Getting out of that country rut

Aubrie Sellers and Carrie Rodriguez breaking the mold

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times

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Aubrie Sellers

Country music these days has a glut of bland artists singing clichéd songs written in cookie-cutter style by Nashville songwriters and delivered onstage with predictable results.

Thankfully, there are artists such as Aubrie Sellers and Carrie Rodriguez who are not afraid to break the mold and step outside the box — not afraid to make country music with an edge — not afraid to follow their own paths.

Fortunately for area music fans, both singers will be performing at local venues over the next two days.

On March 31, Sellers will be performing with her band to the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) — and the place will be rocking.

Frequently, listening to today’s country music is like riding along in a car on a sunny day — travelling over rolling hills with pastoral landscapes. Listening to Sellers’ brand of country music is like speeding down a mountainside in the Smoky Mountains taking hairpin turns at 70 mph — and wondering if the brakes are any good.

Many of the songs on her recently-released debut album “New City Blues” start like a standard country song. But, before long, they explode into something different with crunching guitars and raw vocals. It’s not country music for the faint-of-heart.

“I call it garage-country,” said Sellers, during a phone interview Monday evening from a tour stop in New York City. “It’s not easily absorbed. I’m so influenced by rock. I just wanted to go all-out and do something that hadn’t been done before. I love that electric sound.”

According to Sellers, “I’d rather my music be polarizing than have everyone like it — because they rarely do. I think passion is a lot deeper than that. I want to go deeper and be honest that life isn’t just partying and going out. I mean — don’t people feel anything?

“I prefer to create friction because if you’re not pushing buttons, you’re just making something pleasant. It’s probably been done before… and it’s not making anyone feel anything.

“My influences are all over the place — the Kinks, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Buddy and Julie Miller, Creedence, even Ricky Skaggs — Patty Griffin, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, some acoustic things.

“Led Zeppelin is my biggest rock influence – and that goes right straight, for me, to Ralph Stanley. That raw bluegrass, the banjo, that’s the same energy and intensity you get in punk. It’s all music that’s driven, that’s haunted, that cuts and moves.”

Sellers started work on the album several years ago.

“I started working on it in 2012 and went in for the first tracking session in 2013,” said Sellers. “It was a long process and it took me a long way. Since I didn’t have a label at the time, I had 100 per cent freedom. I knew I had to prove myself with this music. I definitely did it my way.

“My musicians were great. Adam Wright and I wrote some of the songs together and he understood where I was coming from. The music coming out of Nashville is very crafted. I didn’t want it produced and mixed like Nashville. I wanted to get it right sonically. I wanted crashing guitars.
“It’s all right not to understand every word. I wanted something that wasn’t superficial. I definitely knew the direction I wanted. Being in the studio was the culmination of the writing process and production is one of my favorite parts.”

Doing it her way proved to be the best way — even if it did require taking some chances other artists may have avoided.

“I’m not afraid to do the wrong thing,” said Sellers. “I’m not fearless. But, I’m good at pushing through the fear.”

Video link for Aubrie Sellers — https://youtu.be/SDNJX30r2WY.

The show at the Ardmore Music Hall, which also features the Felice Brothers, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 in advance and $20 day of show.

Other upcoming shows at the Ardmore Music Hall are Badfish on April 1; Broken Arrow (Neil Young Tribute),  The Newspaper Taxis (Beatles Tribute) and Su Teears playing Amy Winehouse on April 2 and Jefferson Berry & the Urban Acoustic Coalition, Stu and the Gurus, Brandywine Ridge and The Hoppin’ Boxcars on April 3.

carrie riodriguez

Carrie Rodriguez

Carrie Rodriguez will be in the area on April 1 for a show at the Tin Angel (20 South Second Street, Philadelphia, 215-928-0770, http://www.tinangel.com) in support of her new bilingual LP “Lola,” which will was released in February via Luz Records/Thirty Tigers. Coincidentally, Sellers’ album is also on the Thirty Tigers label.

The new record by Rodriguez features an all-star band including composer/guitarist Bill Frisell along with Viktor Krauss, Luke Jacobs, David Pulkingham and Brannen Temple. Vocalists Raul Malo and Gina Chavez and Grammy Award-winning bajo sexto player Max Baca also make appearances.

Inspired by 1940s-era recordings of her San Antonio-born great aunt Eva Garza, the bilingual album presents a collection of ranchera-inspired originals by Rodriguez in English, Spanish and “Spanglish,” coupled with Spanish songs written by some of her favorite Mexican composers.

“This album is something I wanted to do for over a decade,” said Rodriguez, during a phone interview Monday from a stop in western Pennsylvania. “The idea of recording an album in Spanish was a daunting thought. I wanted to do covers of my favorite Mexican songs.

“One song is by her (Garza) and others are by her contemporaries. She started in the 1930s and her first recording was for as for Columbia Records. She went up to the 1960s but she died very young.

“I was thinking about making the album for about a year. Last January, I found out I was expecting so I had a strong desire to make the record before the baby was born. I did a fundraiser and then recorded in June when I was six months pregnant.

“There was something inside me that told me to document this music before my baby was born. The pregnancy played a role — very emotional. It was beautiful. I was a little worried that being pregnant my affect my vocals but I had never had an easier time singing. I didn’t auto-tune or fix a single note. I was just so inspired. And, the band was my dream band.”

Now, Rodriguez is on the road with Cruz, her young son, and Luke Jacobs, her musical partner, life partner and father of Cruz.

“Luke and I have been touring as a duo for about five years now,” said Rodriguez. “I’ll play with a band but I prefer a duo. I really like the freedom and it’s easier to connect with the audience as a duo. It’s a really comfortable way for me to connect with the fans.

“A lot of the reason Luke can play the music so well is that we did all the pre-production for the new album at home.  A lot of the music started with him in the beginning and was later augmented by a band. The feel of the songs is the backbone.

“We’re playing all the album songs except one. ‘Si No Te Vas’ is a ranchero song done in classic style. It was recorded as a trio with Max Baca playing nylon-stringed bajo sexto.”

Rodriguez first burst on the music scene at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texa in 2001 when she caught the ears of Nashville veteran Chip Taylor (singer/songwriter/composer of “Wild Thing”). She toured with Taylor as a fiddle player and backup singer and eventually recorded four albums and an EP with him.

Rodriguez has also recorded eight solo albums and has toured the world in a variety of formats – with her band, in duets with other artists and in singer-songwriter co-op projects.

Video link for Carrie Rodriguez — https://youtu.be/DP9W1uuETrc.

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Cynthia G. Mason

Rodriguez’s show at the Tin Angel will start at 8 p.m. with tickets priced at $16. The opening act is Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter Cynthia G. Mason.

Mason, whose latest record “Cinematic Turn” came out last June, went through a challenging time a few years ago. Her most recent album prior to this was “Quitter’s Claim” in 2007.

“The reason for such a big gap between albums is complicated,” said Mason, during a phone interview from her home in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. “I played a little bit after ‘Quitter’s Claim’ came out.

“But, I had been playing music for so long I just got burned out. I didn’t want to play music. I didn’t want to hear music. I put all my gear away. I really didn’t want to play anymore. It was a total musical blackout. I wasn’t even attending shows.”

After a few years, Mason’s love of music found its way back to her.

“After awhile, I started to miss it,” said Mason, who had made seven albums prior to the self-imposed hiatus. “I slowly started to listen more. I went out a little more and some things began reeling me in. I realized how much I missed making music and I really yearned for it.”

Like The Terminator, Mason made the announcement — “I’m back.”

“I started reconnecting — seeing what I had been missing,” said Mason. “I also started listening to what was new out there. It was all pretty new to me. I began thinking about making a new album. Recording techniques had changed a lot so it was a big learning curve. “

In December 2014, Mason recorded the album at Miner Street Recordings with producer Brian McTear (Sharon Van Etten, Dr. Dog.) Amy Morrissey engineered the record and Matt Schimelfenig mixed it. The five new songs feature Christopher Sean Powell (Man Man) on drums, Ramon Monras-Sender (Hoots and Hellmouth) on bass, and Peter English (Weathervane Music) on keyboards.

“It’s been a pretty busy year since the album came out,” said Mason. “It did take a little while to get comfortable back on stage — finding my performance legs. But, it’s been a good year. I’ve done a lot of shows and I got to play the Philadelphia Folk Festival

“I haven’t been in the studio since the last album. But, I did make a single called ‘What Forgiveness Will Allow’ with a friend of mine for Brooklyn. We exchanged files and he produced it. It was my first musical collaboration via the internet. We sent files back and forth.

“I have been working on some new songs and I’ll be playing one of them on Friday. I’ve got some songs but I’m a slow writer. I’m a very slow writer so I won’t have anything for a full-length album for awhile.

“What I’ve found refreshing is all the young musicians living and playing in Philadelphia. I’ve shared the stage with a lot of talented people. I’m always listening to music and paying attention to the local scene.”

Video link for Cynthia G. Mason — https://youtu.be/MpzZtH5PMg8.

With the list of live shows in the area featuring talented acts on April 1, it’s obvious that April Fools’ Day is no joke for music fans.

lita-ford-2016-living-like-a-runawayLita Ford’s long music career has spanned more than 40 years — and she is showing no signs of slowing down yet. On April 1, Ford will be in the area for a show at the Reading Eagle Theater at the Santander Arena (700 Penn Street, Reading, 610-898-7469, www.santander-arena.com).

Ford’s career started when she was the lead guitarist of the Runaways from 1975-1979. Next came a solo career that lasted from 1979-1995 and then Ford took time off to raise two sons.

In 2008, Ford re-emerged with a new band playing several warm-up gigs under the moniker Kiss Me Deadly prior to Rocklahoma in the New York City area. In 2009, she toured the United States and Europe and released the album “Wicked Wonderland.”

“I’m still working on new stuff,” said Ford, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from her home in Los Angeles. “I’m always writing new songs. I have half the songs written for an album that will come out in 2017. I’ll come up with a great title or a great riff and then put it down and keep it until it’s time.”

Her real comeback occurred in 2012 with the release of a powerful new album titled “Living Like a Runaway” on SPV/Steamhammer Records.

“I stepped away from music for awhile because I’d been on the road since I was 17 and I needed a break,” said Ford. “I was a little older and had gotten got married. Plus, the grunge scene had kicked in and my kind of music was in the toilet. I figured — I’m tired and, after 20 years, it’s time to bow out and take a break. I didn’t want anything else except to be a good mom.

“When it was time, I came back full steam ahead. There is a lot of built-up aggression on ‘Living Like a Runaway.’. I stayed focused for the entire record. I didn’t let up. It’s a really powerful record. My music has grown. It’s matured.”

Ford has a new album coming out on April 15 on SPV/Steamhammer Records titled “Time Capsule.” The guitar ace, a Grammy-nominated artist who recently accepted Guitar Player’s Lifetime Achievement Award, has opened the vault and shared music no one has heard yet. The album is a time capsule of the fertile and whisky-soaked
pre-grunge period that so many rock fans have continued affection for.

“These were 24-track analog tapes that I had from the 80s that I wanted to bring back to life,” said Ford. “I transformed them to digital and re-mixed them. It is literally a little piece of history in a timer capsule.

“I wanted to give back a little piece of the history to the fans. A lot of people missed the 80s because they were too young — and a lot of people missed the 80s even though they lived through them. The album has a lot of great musicians when they were in their prime. I wanted to give something back to the fans.”

This throwback album features identifiable voices and brilliant players jamming without any planning or pressure. Some of the album’s highlights — Billy Sheehan playing bass and Rodger Carter on drums; Dave Navarro playing a mandolin; Jeff Scott Soto singing a duet with Ford; Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander of Cheap Trick actually singing

backing vocals; and KISS’ Gene Simmons ripping the bass.

Ford also has released a new book titled “Living Like a Runaway. It is a memoir that documents her journey from all-girl band to major solo successes.

“The book took a long time — about five years,” said Ford. “I couldn’t find the right co-author. They weren’t getting the story straight. It’s a good read — an easy read. There’s a lot of stuff in that book.

“I laid it right out there. I didn’t want to hold back. Some people get cold feet when they’re writing autobiographies but not me. I tried to tell the truth and, at the same time, not piss off too many people. I don’t tell any lies in this book.”

The show in Reading will be the first of a 15-date tour opening for Ford as the opening act for Halestorm.

“We only get to do a 40-minute set on this tour,” said Ford. “With a short set like that, we’re just getting warmed up and it’s time to stop. Actually, I have to get warmed up before I go on. I sing for a long time before I go on stage.”

Video link for Lita Ford — https://youtu.be/npR5ussA9pw.

The show at the Reading Eagle Theatre will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50 and $35.



On April 1, internationally-acclaimed composer and jazz pianist Hiromi will visit Philadelphia to perform a concert at the Annenberg Center (3680 Walnut Street

Philadelphia, 215-898-3900, http://www.annenbergcenter.org).

Hiromi, whose full name is Hiromi Uehara, was born in Hamamatsu, Japan. She began studying classical piano when she was five years, and was later introduced to jazz by her piano teacher Noriko Hikida. At age 14, she played with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

The piano virtuoso has released 10 studio albums — four as Hiromi, three as Hiromi’s Sonicbloom and four as The Trio Project. She is currently touring the states in support of “Spark,” the most recent album by The Trio Project which is set to be released on April 1 on Telarc.

On “Spark,” Hiromi traces the path of the flame ignited by that spark as it consumes and inspires. Over the course of nine expressively charged songs, the listener is carried away on an impassioned spiritual journey that might tell the story of a personal discovery, a love affair, or the creation of the music itself.  

Since forming in 2010, The Trio Project has explored the richness of the inner voice on their 2011 debut “Voice”; the dynamic, unceasing motion of time on their 2013 follow-up “Move”; and captured the feeling of their electrifying live performances on 2014’s “Alive.”

The Trio Project features contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson, who has worked with Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Chick Corea, and The O’Jays, and drummer Simon Phillips, whose musical resume includes The Who, David Gilmour, Judas Priest, Toto and Jack Bruce.  

With “Spark,” the trio again exemplifies why DownBeat magazine has called them “one of the most exciting groups working in any genre today,” with the leader’s effusive, heartfelt virtuosity supported by Jackson’s vigorously fluid bass lines and Phillips’ ability to be simultaneously propulsive and witty behind the kit.

“I’ve been playing with this trio for five years,” said Hiromi, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Berne, Switzerland. ‘We’ve been on the road together for awhile.

“In 2010, we formed the trio with bassist Anthony Jackson. He was a special guest on my first two albums and after that I always wanted to make a full album with him. Then, I started writing music. The more I wrote, I heard drum sounds so I contacted Simon Phillips and he was very excited about it.

“We did three albums together from 2011-2014 and just did the fourth. The trio is what we mainly do. We’ve been on the road for the last half-year. This tour has been our main focus for quite awhile.”

Hiromi has found her niche with the trio.

“It makes more fun when I’m writing for the trio,” said Hiromi. “It’s like writing as movie script when you know who the actors are. The more I play with them, I see them from a different angle — more things I can discover from their playing.

“It’s very exciting to work with both Simon and Anthony. They can play any kind of music. They have a deep understanding for all kinds of genres. The philosophy they have for music — they put everything into performing every single day and they’re always listening for something new.”

Hiromi is equally comfortable playing jazz or classical — and equally adept.

“I listen to all kinds of music,” said Hiromi. “My teacher (Noriko Hikida) was a big jazz fan but she’d be playing Horowitz at the same time. I listened to all kinds of music ever since I was young.

“My teacher had me listen to musicians like Oscar Peterson and learn about improvising. That really fascinated me. In my live shows, there is a section in the songs written for improvisational parts. We’re always looking for something new in songs. It’s very free and open.”

Video link for Hiromi — https://youtu.be/2t2ob2Cakn0.

The show at Annenberg Center will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30, $45 and $60.


Imani Winds

A blend of classical and jazz musicians will also be on display on April 1 when Imani Winds perform at Bryn Mawr College’s Thomas Great Hall (101 North Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, 610- 526-5000, http://www.brynmawr.edu/arts/series.html).

Imani Winds has established itself as one of the most successful chamber music ensembles in the United States. Since 1997, the Grammy nominated quintet has taken a unique path, carving out a distinct presence in the classical music world with its dynamic playing, culturally poignant programming, adventurous collaborations, and inspirational outreach programs.

With two member composers and a deep commitment to commissioning new work, the group is enriching the traditional wind quintet repertoire while meaningfully bridging European, American, African and Latin American traditions.

“We’ve wanted to bring Imani Winds here for quite some time,” said Lisa Kraus, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “They’re the best wind ensemble in the country.”

Kraus is the curator of Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Series and the college’s Learning to Listen Series.

“Their repertoire is very interesting,” said Kraus. “Their classical chops are great but they also have a jazz background. Their taste in music is pretty adventurous.”

Imani Winds’ touring schedule has taken them across the globe. At home, the group has performed in the nation’s major concert venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Disney Hall, and Kimmel Center.

The group is frequently engaged by the premier chamber music series in Boston, San Francisco, Portland, Philadelphia and New York, and has also played virtually every major university performing arts series. Festivals include Chamber Music Northwest, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society, Virginia Arts Festival, Bravo! Colorado, and Ravinia Festival.

In recent seasons, the group has traveled extensively internationally, with tours in China, Singapore, Brazil, and throughout Europe. Recent season highlights include debuts at La Folle Journee in Nantes, France, and in London’s Wigmore Hall. In 2015 they also debuted at Paris Jazz Festival and were featured at the Huntington Estate Festival in Australia.

The group continues its Legacy Commissioning Project, in which the ensemble is commissioning, premiering and touring new works for woodwind quintet written by established and emerging composers of diverse musical backgrounds.

The Legacy Project kicked off in 2008 with world premieres by Alvin Singleton and Roberto Sierra. Since then, projects have included works by Jason Moran, Stefon Harris, Danilo Perez, Simon Shaheen, and Mohammed Fairouz.

The group’s fifth album on E1 Music — titled “Terra Incognita” after Wayne Shorter’s piece written for the group — is a celebration of the Legacy project with new works written for Imani Winds by Shorter, Jason Moran, and Paquito D’Rivera.

In 2015 they premiered a new work by Frederic Rzewski at Duke University’s Duke Performances. Their seventh commercial recording is scheduled to be released in summer 2016.

The group’s program at Bryn Mawr will include “Rubispheres I” by Imani Winds member Valerie Coleman, “Quintet for Winds” by Elliott Carter, “Quintette en Forme de Choros” by Heitor Villa-Lobos, “Music for Wind Instruments” by John Cage, “Travesoas Panamenas” by Danilo Perez, and “Trois Instants fugitis” by French composer Thierry Escaich.

“We’ve called this program ‘Considered (Mostly) Modern’,” said Kraus. “We wanted to have some known composers. It’s a varied program — but it’s more contemporary.”

Video link for Imani Winds — https://youtu.be/BOMbCsFV4ns.

The show at Bryn Mawr College will get underway at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, $18 for seniors over 65, $10 for students with ID and $5 for children under 12.

the falcon

The Falcon

Another area show on April 1 is at the other end of the musical spectrum. The Falcon, a punk rock band with its roots in Chicago, will play a show at MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com).

The Falcon is a punk supergroup featuring Brendan Kelly and Neil Hennessy from The Lawrence Arms, Dan Andriano from Alkaline Trio and Dave Hause from The Loved Ones. The band spent part of the winter in Chicago’s Atlas Studios with producer Dan Tinkler recording its second full-length album “Gather Up the Chaps,” which was released in March by Red Scare Industries.

The 12-song collection is vulgar, dark, risqué, and hilarious that deals not only with the birds and the bees but also with the ugly underbelly of carnal desires and vices.

The band released its debut EP in 2004 and followed with its “Unicornography” album in 2006.

“Right now, I live in Chicago and Dan lives in St. Augustine, Florida,” said Kelly, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon while the band was in a tour rehearsals at a studio in Philadelphia. “Neal and Dave both live in California — Neal in L.A. and Dave in Santa Barbara.”

This is a band with more records than actual history.

“The Falcon almost never really existed,” said Kelly. “The Falcon was always something I thought about doing. Neal plays in The Lawrence Arms with me and Dan was one of my oldest friends.

“We put out the EP and never played a show. Then, we put out an album and played just one show. About two years ago, we did a show at Metro in Chicago for the 10-year Red Scare anniversary. That’s the label that put the first The Falcon album out.”

That show in Chicago was a game-changer.

“We did that show and it was so much fun,” said Kelly. “Sometimes, when you’re in this business for a long time, you kind of forget why you do this. Playing a show like that was refreshing.

“Immediately after the show, we knew that we were a band and that we had to make a record. The next day, I started writing songs for the band. I’d write and then send the songs to the other guys. We all have been friends forever so none of us were coming with baggage.

“It’s all about writing good songs and getting the structures down. The first mistress is always the song. When I start, the main labor is to have a great song. These guys are great musicians and they can just do their thing with any song they get.”

If “Gather Up the Chaps” were a movie, it would probably have a “X” rating — especially with songs such as “War of Colossus,” “The Skeleton Dance,” “The Fighter. The Rube. The Asshole,” “You Dumb Dildos” and “Dead Rose.”

“It’s a dark record,” said Kelly. “It’s about the moment when happiness melts into despair — that magical sweet spot.”

Video link for The Falcon — https://youtu.be/7Z3NponNN3E.

The show at MilkBoy will start at 8 p.m. and will also feature the Scandals, the Lippies and VAPERS. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 day of show.

sean watkins

Sean Watkins

Another local show on April 1 features an artist from another different region of the popular music spectrum. Sean Watkins, one of the top young artists in the Americana genre, will be performing at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com).

Watkins, a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, has long been known for his work as one-third of the Grammy Award-winning trio Nickel Creek and, more recently, for helming the itinerant and genre-hopping ensemble Watkins Family Hour with his sister Sara.

Also a member of the Americana supergroup Works Progress Administration and the duo Fiction Family, Watkins has added to his workload in the last year by taking on the role of solo artist.  On March 18, Watkins released his new album “What to Fear” via Thirty Tigers — a follow-up to 2014’s acclaimed “All I Do Is Lie,” which had been his first solo record in nearly a decade.

“I am involved in a lot of projects but it’s all right,” said Watkins, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon en route to a gig in Massachusetts. “There is a lot of time — so it’s not hard. I love music — playing and writing — so I don’t really think of it as work. The travelling part is what’s hard.

“Nickel Creek is totally still a band. We’re all just doing different things right now. My sister Sara has her own album coming out soon. Chris (Thile) is taking over as host of ‘Prairie Home Companion.’

“And, I’m just starting the cycle with this album. I started making the album last summer and worked on-and-off from June until October. I had a lot of other things happening like The Watkins Family Hour album and tour.”

Watkins and his sister Sara play regularly at the Largo nightclub in Los Angeles as “The Watkins Family Hour.” Keyboardist Benmont Tench (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and bassist Sebastian Steinberg (formerly of Soul Coughing) are regular participants and other guest musicians from the Largo family generally show up as well, including Jon Brion, Fiona Apple, Don Heffington, and Chris Thile. Watkins has also frequently supports his sister on guitar and vocals for her solo shows.

“I recorded ‘What to Fear’ at a friend’s studio in the L.A. area,” said Watkins. “I also did some at my home studio in Eagle Rock. And, I just scored a move called ‘Cortez.’  Right now, my focus is on touring and playing songs from this record.”

On his own, Watkins displays tremendous warmth and soulfulness as a singer, a refreshing candor and humor as a lyricist, and prodigious skill as an arranger. And he doesn’t merely stick with the familiar. On “What To Fear,” he bolsters an acoustic lineup with a rock rhythm section — bringing drama and drive to these new tracks while keeping intact the emotional intimacy of all the stories he is telling.

On this tour, Watkins is on the road with Petra Haden and Jesse Harris. The two music veterans are touring in support of their new album “Seemed Like A Good Idea – Petra Haden Sings Jesse Harris.”

“Right now, I’m touring with one person — Dominique Arciero, who plays keyboards and sings harmony,” said Watkins. “Petra Haden also has a couple people playing with her and they’ll do some songs with me. Petra, who also lives in L.A., sang on one song on my record. I was looking for someone to tour with so I asked her.

“I’m playing most of the songs from ‘What to Fear.’ Sometimes, you make an album and not all the songs work live but that’s not the case with this one. I just did a record release show at The Largo and played the album start-to-finish.”

Video link for Sean Watkins — https://youtu.be/Xi-sxlIpRCk.

The show at Boot & Saddle, which also features Kalob Griffin, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

The Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present Open Jam with Davey Dickens & The Troubadours on March 31, The John Byrne Band and Lili  Añel on April 1, The Melton Brothers and Butch Zito with Steve Hobson on April 2 and Open Mic with guest host Scott Birney on April 3.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will present Vocal Fusion on March 31, Garnet Rogers on April 1 and Brad Hinton, Daniel Bower, and Hezekiah Jones & Ladybird on April 2.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host CPTime, R.O.B. and Cris-B on April 1 and Ryan Cohen, Stephen LaBella and Stephen Kolter on April 2.

Doc Watson’s Public House (150 North Pottstown Pike, Exton, 610-524-2424, docwatsonspublichouse.com) will present Chatterband on April 1 and Missing Links on April 2.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present Heather Maloney with Robinson Treacher on March 31, Butter Queen Sister with Found Wanderingon April 1,and Tracy Grammer with John Francis on April 2.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Making a Murderer on April 1 and 3, Giada Valenti on April 2 and Joe Satriani on April 6.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will present Iain Matthews with Andy Roberts perform Plainsong and Lily Mae on March 31, Tom Rush on April 1, Chad & Jeremy on April 2, Ethan Bortnick on April 3, Uli Jon Roth with Jennifer Batten & Andy Timmons on April 5 and Tommy Castro & The Painkillers with the Jamie McLean Band on April 6.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will present Jim Norton on April 1.

The Playhouse on Rodney Square (10th and Market streets, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-888-0200, www. duponttheatre.com) will host a show by Art Garfunkel on April 1.

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