Friday, November 17, 2006

Tift Merritt and Watkins Family (Nickel Creek) at the Largo

I am a big fan of Tift Merritt, and she was a recent guest of Sean and Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) at the Largo at 432 North Fairfax. One of my friends on Flickr from Birmingham, England tipped me off that Tift would be playing in my hometown. This person had recently posted some great photos of Tift Merritt from the Cambridge, England Music Festival. There is also some footage from the Cambridge Music Festival on Youtube. During the festival Tift met Sean and Sarah Watkins, who were also performing, and they invited her to visit them in Los Angeles and share the stage with them at their weekly show at the Largo. Tift told the audience that Sean and Sara had even taken her out surfing, and that she, could grow to like living in LA. It is definitely not North Carolina. Tift opened the show and finished her set with Sean and Sara. It was then the host turn to entertain the packed house (which can seat up to 300 according to the waitress) which included many regulars along with their parents. Tift played songs from her two CD's and other material. She expects to have her third CD out next summer, although there is a hard to find live music CD from a couple of years ago. Tift Merritt is categorized at Alt-Country, and thus, is not heard that much on Country music stations, although here in LA, KZLA is no more. You can catch her music videos on the GAC cable station, and there are several shows like Edge of Country that feature this other side of Country that does not get as much airplay on mainstream Country music stations. Please listen to Tift on her website, and buy her CD's, especially, if you've previously written-off country music.

The Largo is a dinner club that had a door charge of $15 per person, and then the requirement to spend another $15 on food plus a drink. For those not wanting to eat dinner at 9 pm, you could sit at the bar which was in the back of the room. The doors opened at 8 pm, and they immediately began taking orders. There was a very strict policy of all electronic equipment had to be off and no pictures were allowed, otherwise, I would have performance pictures posted on my Flickr site. Seeing one's favorite artist in a small venue, feels like you are at a private party. It is called the Watkins Family Hour, although the concert started around 9:30 pm, and finished shortly before midnight. The audience was treated to new material that Sean and Sara had recently written that played really well to the audience. They also reached into the way back machine to dust off an old Bob Dylan song that Judy Collins covered many years ago, and "Different Drum"a Linda Ronstadt song from her days with Stone Poneys. Sean told the audience that their new Best of CD just came out contained live tracks from many years ago which I will be buying soon.

Several times, Sara and Sean invited Tift back to the stage to perform with them and their steel guitarist, piano player, drummer, and bass player. They were all excellent muscians. Listening to Sarah play the fiddle reminds one of a young Allison Krause. In fact, Allison Krause discovered them, produced them, and introduced them to the Sugar Hill label. Several of the songs were instrumentals, that showed off Sarah skills along with her brother Sean on the guitar. The steel guitarist also had many opportunities that demonstrated his many years on the instrument.

While leaving the Largo, I asked Tift if I could take her picture, and she said sure, and thus you see the above photo taken by my wife. I can't wait to see Tift Merritt when she returns to LA for a full concert, and I also suspect that Sean and Sara will invite her back for the Watkins Family Hour which is now on my radar screen for great Thursday night acoustical entertainment. Thank you Sara and Sean for putting Tift on the Largo stage. You and your friends were wonderful together. It reminded me of the Crosssover shows on the other national Country cable station.

I will update this posting with additional links, and I did take Metro (Red Line and Rapid Bus) to ExperienceLA at the Largo.

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