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Women's Lifestyle Magazine

The Watkins Family Hour with Special Guest Artist Courtney Hartman at St. Cecilia Music Center

Nov 29, 2021 02:10PM ● By Two Eagles Marcus

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (November 24, 2021) – St. Cecilia Music Center - 24 Ransom Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI brings Watkins Family Hour for their debut appearance in Royce Auditorium on December 16, 2021. The Watkins Family Hour duo, Sean Watkins and Sara Watkins, will perform songs from their 2020 album as well as, other, 

Performing along with Watkins Family Hour is special opening artist Courtney Hartman, who will lead off the evening starting at 7 p.m. 

Executive & Artistic Director of SCMC Cathy Holbrook says, “We are thrilled to have Sean and Sara Watkins of The Watkins Family Hour with us at St. Cecilia Music Center during their debut appearances in Grand Rapids on December 16th. 

Tickets for Watkins Family Hour with Special Guest Artist Courtney Hartman are $45 and $55 and can be purchased online at www.scmc-online.orgby calling St. Cecilia Music Center at 616-459-2224. 

NOTE: SCMC currently requires proof of fully vaccinated status, or a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours, to attend a concert at the SCMC venue. Attendees need to bring photo ID and proof of vaccination, or a negative test, the night of a concert. 

All patrons are required to wear a mask for the full duration of their time in the building, throughout the concert. 

If you have tickets to an upcoming performance and are unwilling or unable to abide by this policy, please contact the SCMC box office for a refund at [email protected] a minimum of 48 hours prior to the concert date.

Artist Bios 

Watkins Family Hour

GRAMMY Award winning artists Sean and Sara Watkins grew up playing music together alongside Chris Thile in the hugely successful folk and bluegrass band Nickel Creek, an acoustic ensemble that sold millions of albums, won a GRAMMY, and toured the world. 

The talented Watkins Family Hour duo, Sean and Sara Watkins, have performed separately and together for nearly their whole lives. Growing up near San Diego, they played countless shows at a local pizza place in Carlsbad, California, with their childhood friend, Chris Thile. 

Encouraged by a local club owner in Los Angeles, Sean and Sara formed Watkins Family Hour in 2002 as an outlet to try out some original songs and a few covers that wouldn’t work in Nickel Creek. That club, Largo, has since become the home base for Watkins Family Hour, whose shows frequently pair musicians who seem to have little in common, yet find a shared language in their music.

With Nickel Creek on hiatus, Sean and Sara released multiple solo albums and pursued other collaborations, most recently with Sara’s involvement in I’m With Her. However, the siblings gravitated toward the idea of another Watkins Family Hour album after realizing that their calendars afforded them a rare opportunity to write, record, and tour together.

Returning to the studio as Watkins Family Hour, Sean and Sara Watkins consider brother sister a duo-centric record – one that feels bigger than just two people. With Sean primarily on guitar and Sara on fiddle, and with both sharing vocals, the siblings enlisted producer Mike Viola (Jenny Lewis, Mandy Moore, J.S. Ondara) and mixer-engineer Clay Blair to harness the energy and honesty of their live sound.

“From the beginning, our goal was to work on these songs to be as strong as they could be, just the two of us,” Sara explains. “And with a few exceptions on the record, that’s really how things were. However, brother sister remains exactly that – the result of a brother and sister creating music.

“It felt really good to dig into the potential of two people,” Sara says. “There are a few songs on the record where Matt Chamberlain comes in to play drums, and we filled in the low end in a few cases with Mike Viola playing MOOG or piano, but the primary goal of this record became to see what we could do when it is just the two of us. The arrangements and the writing were all focused on that. Listening now, I’m proud of what we did. These are songs that would not have come out of either one of us individually, and it feels like a band sound, like this is what we do, the two of us.”

Sara Watkins plays fiddle, ukulele and the guitar and played percussion while touring with the Decemberists. Sean Watkins, a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter has also performed in Fiction Family, the supergroup Works Progress Administration

Courtney Hartman

Courtney Hartman is a Colorado-born guitarist, singer, writer, and producer. She is best known for her writing and recording with artists throughout the folk community. With the release of her second album, Glade, Courtney takes us with her into a world of her own making, with songs about home and abiding; pulling out the marrow of what makes us good and what makes us kin. Her own home is the beginning place for the questions set to song, held by the soundscapes of the valley where she spent her childhood.

The musical-well runs deep in Courtney’s family. As the third of ten children, she was picking up instruments in the house sooner than she could read, learning to sing harmonies to hymnal melodies with her older sisters and grandmother, and teaching her younger siblings to play. “There was chaos at home, to be sure, but music was something we could all do together. I think that was the reason it was so important to our parents that we learn from a young age.” Through her teens, Courtney led four of her siblings in a band, writing songs and booking shows at festivals and farmsteads throughout the country.

In 2009, Courtney left home for Boston, MA to study American Roots music at Berklee College of Music. She was soon on the road, touring full-time with the Boston-born band, Della Mae. Her seven years with the band garnered them two Rounder Record releases, a GRAMMY nomination, and performances in over 30 countries, representing the US through music diplomacy. 

Courtney now makes her home in Eau Claire, WI with her husband. Courtney is now touring this fall and winter to perform from her new album, Glade.


Watkins Family Hour

Thursday, December 16, 2021

A section $55

B section $45


St. Cecilia Music Center’s mission is to promote the study, appreciation and

performance of music in order to enrich the lives of West Michigan residents. 

The Center fulfills this mission by 

presenting visiting world-class artists in concert, 

providing music education for all ages through our School of Music and 

preserving a historic building for musical activities and community events