Tuneful trio I’m With Her performed at the 2018 Old Settler’s Music Festival on Saturday, April 21 on the Original Black’s BBQ stage in Tilmon, Texas. Listed as one of our 5 Must-See Bands of the festival, this delightful group features, Sarah Jarosz (vocals, mandolin, guitar, and banjo), Sara Watkins (vocals and fiddle), and Aoife O’Donovan (vocals and guitar).
Their matchless chemistry would make your swear they’re sisters, but these gals each have diverse and interesting histories of their own. As an avid bluegrass fan and follower, I’m excited to share with you why I love this band and each of the individual members in it.
As crazy as it might sound, Sara Watkins is a major reason why I decided to pick up music myself. After years of listening to her in Nickel Creek (yet another band I could talk about for hours), I grew a burning passion to make music… er, or at least attempt to.
Sara was basically a child prodigy, debuting her fiddle-playing skills at the young age of eight years old. Over the years, Sarah has produced several albums with Nickel Creek, has performed with The Decemberists, and has even recorded three solo albums.
Just a little over a year ago, Sara made a stop at Austin’s own Antone’s during her solo tour for her album “Young in All the Wrong Ways.” It was an intimate, beautiful show that made me appreciate her music even more (like that was possible!), and I even got to briefly meet her afterwards. I’d say it was this great moment I love to talk about, but I’ll admit I completely ruined it by being the MOST awkward. Seriously. I acted like I didn’t even know how to talk and probably just sounded creepy mumbling that I love her music. No regrets, though. No regrets.
Nearly every friend of mine has heard me nerd out about Sarah Jarosz, and you may have even read a little bit about her in our OSMF ’18 Recap. Discovering her music years ago truly made me fall in love with this festival, and it’s been amazing to see how her music career has grown since.
Sarah’s history runs deep with Old Settler’s, as her career was kick-started by winning the festival’s youth talent competition back when she was just a young girl (another child prodigy). It was there and then that was also introduced to the band members of Nickel Creek (Sara Watkins, Chris Thile, and Sean Watkins) along with many other inspirational artists in the same realm.
Since then, Sarah has produced countless breathtaking albums, has collaborated with phenomenal musicians (Bela Fleck, Chris Thile, and Viktor Krass just to name a few), and has even won TWO Grammys. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I have a major girl crush on this musician wise beyond her years, but I am sad to say that I’ve missed several opportunities to actually meet her. Probably for the best given and my prior awkward experience meeting Sara Watkins.
Aoife O’Donovan has a voice that is both haunting and comforting. Well-known for her band The Crooked Stills, Aoife has also integrated herself into the bluegrass world, delivering beautiful tracks that even Allison Krauss has recorded.
I was first introduced to Aoife’s music when I discovered The Goat Rodeo Sessions, a Grammy winning collaboration album by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile – all these names sound familiar now? Though she is featured on just one track, it is easily one of my favorites on it.
It surprisingly wasn’t until I started listening to the broadcast radio show Live From Here (previously known as A Prairie Home Companion) when I truly fell in love with Aoife’s music. As a big Chris Thile fan, I started listening to the show almost weekly when he began hosting, and it was through the episodes she co-hosted that I became more curious and interested in her own works. Since then, she’s become an artist I listen to weekly.
Some may say that the bluegrass world is a small world, but I’d like to think it was fate that brought these string-playing goddesses together. Over the years I’ve seen them each perform separately, so when I heard they’d be joining together to create “See You Around,” I could barely contain myself – one of their first single covers “Crossing Muddy Waters” quickly became a favorite song of mine back in 2015… and now a full album?! So many chills.
Needless to say, I knew from the get-go that their performance together at Old Settler’s would be nothing short of beautiful, ethereal, and pure. I wasn’t wrong. Just listen to their live cover of Adele’s “Send My Love.”
Their set moved the crowd (I may or may not have cried a little) with their vocals that fit so beautifully together it’s almost unworldly. Seeing these ladies on stage would make you think that they’ve been performing together their whole lives. It was chemistry on a whole new level.
Songs performed included favorites such as “See You Around,” “Game to Lose,” “Ryland,” “Overland” and more amazing covers like “Crossing Muddy Waters,” “Be My Husband,” and “Walking Back to Georgia.” The perfect mix of relaxing, energetic, joyful, and melancholy, I’m With Her’s set left us all feeling every emotion in the best way.
Check out some other photos from their set below, and be sure to visit our music page for additional stories, recaps, and photo galleries of other music happenings around Austin!
Leigh is a native Texan gone temporary New Yorker and now proud Austinite. Passions include but are not limited to music (both as a spectator and dabbler), traveling & cultural adventures, film & television, true crime, design (of the fashion, interior, and graphic sorts), and photographing & writing about all the aforementioned. Self-acclaimed coffee connoisseur & wino, cat aficionado, book worm, and nature junkie.