(formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show)
With Opening Act
Saturday, March 4, 2017 @ 7:30pm
Looking like a man from leaner and meaner times, Willie Watson steps on stage with a quiet gravitas. But, when he opens his mouth and lets out that high lonesome vocal, you can hear him loud and clear. Born in Watkins Glen, N.Y.— Watson grew up listening to his father’s basement record collection, including Bob Dylan and Neil Young, before stumbling on a Leadbelly album at the age of 12.
“As soon as I heard that record,” he recalls, “I was hooked.” Willie went on to like-minded souls in Old Crow Medicine Show. “When we started that band, I found people that were cut from the same musical cloth,” he says. A few years down that road, Watson’s work with Old Crow is already a large part of the reason that banjo and guitar driven music is heard everywhere in the air these days.
Watson is now center-stage, armed with an acoustic guitar, banjo and the occasional mouth harp. Indeed, hearing Watson’s skillful and subtle banjo and guitar accompaniments and soaring vocals unadorned for the first time is a revelation. “Part of me always toyed with this idea of going it alone,” he explains. “I had to relearn some things, how to fill out all that space.” Watson takes the skeletons of these songs and breathes his own life into them, on stage and on record. “I love singing that blues. It’s blues therapy at its best.” Pundits have compared Watson to giants like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, but Willie is a lot humbler than that. “I try to take songs I can relate to and that I can sing with urgency, that I can feel,” he says. “I’m just happy if people dig it.”
Lyrically driven, Chicago Farmer delves into the social and political issues of today’s world, taking it all in and putting it back through music as a commentary on modern times in the Midwest. With his unfeigned and relatable approach, Chicago Farmer has earned a place in the heart of his generation’s rise of protest songs. He composes music written and sung by and for the working class, the “regular person”, bringing to mind modern day folk tales.
Tickets: $20 (Cultural Center members receive 20% off)