Cohn • Colvin • Watkins: Together In Concert @ The Magnolia in El Cajon
Mon Dec 6
Cohn • Colvin • Watkins: Together In Concert @ The Magnolia in El Cajon
|Age:||Ages 21+ Only|
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Ticket Price: $45-$75
THIS SHOW IS AT THE MAGNOLIA
After winning a Grammy for his soulful ballad “Walking in Memphis,” Marc Cohn solidified his place as one of this generation’s most compelling singer-songwriters, combining the precision of a brilliant tunesmith with the passion of a great soul man. Rooted in the rich ground of American rhythm and blues, soul and gospel and possessed of a deft storyteller’s pen, he weaves vivid, detailed, often drawn-from-life tales that evoke some of our most universal human feelings: love, hope, faith, joy, heartbreak.
Cohn followed up his platinum-selling debut with two more releases in the 1990s, at which point Time magazine called him "one of the honest, emotional voices we need in this decade" and Bonnie Raitt declared, "Marc is one of the most soulful, talented artists I know. I love his songs, he's an incredible singer, and I marvel at his ability to mesmerize every audience he plays for."
Raitt, James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Patty Griffin all made guest appearances on Cohn’s early records for Atlantic as his reputation as an artist and performer continued to grow. In 1998, Cohn took a decade-long sabbatical from recording, ending in 2007 with Join the Parade. Inspired by the horrific events following Hurricane Katrina and his own near fatal shooting just weeks before, Parade is his most moving and critically acclaimed record to date.
About his album Listening Booth: 1970, a collection of reimagined classics from that seminal year in music, Rolling Stone said, “Cohn has one of rock’s most soulful croons – a rich, immediately recognizable tenor that makes these songs his own.” In late 2014, Cohn released “The Coldest Corner in the World,” the title song to the documentary Tree Man and his first original song released in more than seven years.
On March 25, 2016, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his platinum-selling debut album, released Careful What You Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities along with the bonus album Evolution of a Record, featuring never-before-heard songs and demos dating back to years before his debut album and the Grammy award that followed.
Marc’s momentum continued into a busy and fruitful 2017, which he spent in part on the road with the legendary Michael McDonald, garnering critical acclaim across the U.S. His writing talent was also drafted for work with a roster of American music greats including soul survivor William Bell, who won his first Grammy at age 78 with Marc’s help; Marc co-wrote a solid half of Bell’s celebrated album This is Where I Live, including the passionate opening cut “The Three Of Me.” The album revived the sound of Stax soul’s golden age, when Bell had first cut his teeth as an artist, and which had influenced Marc Cohn so powerfully - in its way, completing a circle and letting Marc give back to one of the originators of the sound that shaped him.
Marc revisited another corner of American music’s rich heritage with the Blind Boys of Alabama on the Grammy-nominated song “Let My Mother Live,” and also worked with David Crosby on the album Lighthouse. As powerfully influenced by the singer-songwriter tradition as he is by the legacy of soul and gospel, working with the ‘60s icon was a project that got right to Marc’s creative core.
In 2019, Marc released a collaborative record with gospel legends Blind Boys of Alabama titled Work To Do which on BMG. Work to Do is comprised of three studio tracks by Cohn and the Blind Boys (two originals, including the title track, and a version of the gospel standard “Walk In Jerusalem”) plus seven intimate live performances recorded at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, CT, during a taping of the PBS series The Kate. Original plans were to release an EP containing the studio tracks, but the excitement and magic captured during the taping inspired the decision to create this unique hybrid album.
Moving forward, Marc continues to do what he does best: infuse American music with both a fresh perspective and a reverence for its deep roots.
“…extraordinary songs, mesmerising guitar playing, and a voice that goes effortlessly from bruise-tender to scar-hard in a matter of minutes… her lyrics are crafted and clever, full of subtlety and polished phrases…With delicious sarcasm and acerbic stories, she held the audience spellbound… her songs are so personal to her that they speak to everyone who listens.” – The Guardian
In an era when female singer-songwriters are ever more ubiquitous, Shawn Colvin stands out as a singular and enduring talent. Her songs are slow-release works of craft and catharsis that become treasured, lifetime companions for their listeners. As a storyteller, Colvin is both keen and warm-hearted, leavening even the toughest tales with tenderness, empathy, and a searing sense of humor. In the nearly 30 years since the release of her debut album, Colvin has won three GRAMMY Awards, released twelve albums, written a critically acclaimed memoir, maintained a non-stop national and international touring schedule, appeared on countless television and radio programs, had her songs featured in major motion pictures and created a remarkable canon of work.
Colvin was born in Vermillion, South Dakota, where she lived until she was eight. A small-town childhood in the university town of Carbondale, IL. drew her to the guitar by the age of 10. She made her first public appearance on campus at the University of Illinois at age 15. By the late 1970’s Colvin was singing in a Western Swing band in Austin, Texas—the city she now calls home. Moving to New York at the decade’s end she remained in the country music field as a member of the Buddy Miller Band where she met producer, guitarist and co-writer John Leventhal. Leventhal inspired Colvin to find her own voice as a songwriter. She began honing her skill and was soon signed to Columbia Records. Her first album, Steady On, produced by Leventhal, won the GRAMMY Award for Best Contemporary Folk Recording.
Colvin continued to win fans and critics with her subsequent releases, Fat City (1992) and Cover Girl (1994). In 1996, she released A Few Small Repairs (1996), which would prove to be her breakthrough. The song “Sunny Came Home” gave Colvin a Top 10 hit, a platinum-selling album and two of GRAMMY’s biggest honors: Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
Holiday Songs And Lullabies (1998), recorded while Colvin was eight months pregnant with her daughter Caledonia, followed. Her next studio album, Whole New You (2001) found Colvin examining new motherhood and the responsibilities of family. These Four Walls (2006) was lauded by People Magazine as “the most self-assured album of her career” and “one for the ages” by the Washington Post. The Austin-American Statesman called it “an exquisite portrait of strength and vulnerability.”
Shawn Colvin Live (2009), was recorded during a special three-night engagement at San Francisco’s famous jazz club, Yoshi’s. Live captures the beauty and intimacy of Colvin’s performances, showcasing her inimitable voice and matchless guitar stylings. Praised by both critics and fans, the album was honored with a GRAMMY Award nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Recording.
All Fall Down (2012) was produced by Colvin’s longtime friend and musical cohort Buddy Miller (Patty Griffin, Robert Plant, Lucinda Williams). Recorded in Nashville with a group of stellar musicians, the album features performances by Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Jakob Dylan, Bill Frisell, Viktor Krauss, Brian Blade, Stuart Duncan and Julie Miller.
The release of All Fall Down was simultaneous with that of her William Morrow/Harper Collins–published memoir, Diamond In The Rough. Diamond in the Rough looks back over a rich lifetime of highs and lows with stunning insight and candor. Through its pages we witness the inspiring story of a woman honing her artistry, finding her voice, and making herself whole.
Uncovered (2015) is the long-awaited follow up to fan-favorite Cover Girl. Its twelve tunes include masterful interpretations of songs by Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Stevie Wonder, Robbie Robertson and Graham Nash – and more – but in their selection and delivery they are pure Shawn Colvin.
In June 2016, Shawn Colvin and longtime friend Steve Earle united to release, Colvin & Earle, their acclaimed self-titled duo album. Produced by Buddy Miller, Colvin & Earle beautifully captures the pair’s extraordinary chemistry and is a true standout in careers already filled with pinnacles and masterpieces. The album received high praise from critics – NPR asserted that the duo “Elevated their collaboration to the level of top-flight album-making, bringing seemingly opposing impulses to the process.”
Colvin was recognized for her career accomplishments when she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Trailblazer Award at the 2016 Americana Honors and Awards Show. Presenting her with this prestigious award was Bonnie Raitt. Said Raitt, “She’s simply one of the best singers I’ve ever heard — and a truly gifted and deep songwriter and guitarist… She was groundbreaking when she emerged and continues to inspire me and the legions of fans and other singer/songwriters coming up in her wake”
2018 saw the release of The Starlighter (Amazon Music), a new album of songs adapted from the children’s music book “Lullabies and Night Songs.” The Starlighters mixes traditional numbers and children’s standards in an elegant and graceful musical offering that resonates with the warmth and tenderness of poignant familial experience and remembrance. The result is an album that captures the magic and mystery of children’s lullabies in a moving and timeless musical offering.
In September 2019, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of Steady On, Colvin will be releasing a special, newly-recorded all acoustic version of that landmark album.
With the nostalgic and gentle new album Under the Pepper Tree, Sara Watkins offers a comforting record for those moments as daily rhythms fade into nightly rituals – and when a child’s imagination comes to life.
Made with families in mind, the personal project encompasses songs she embraced as a child herself, as well as the musical friendships she’s made along the way. Recorded in Los Angeles with producer Tyler Chester, Under the Pepper Tree brings storytelling, solace, and encouragement to the listener, no matter the age.
Reflecting on the optimistic outlook that is woven throughout the album, Watkins says, “I hope it resonates with children and with anyone else who needs to hear that message. We think of an uplifting message as largely being childlike, because that’s how we communicate to kids. We encourage them, we’re kind to them, and we have often more patience than we do when we’re talking to adults. But we all need to receive that. We all need to be on the receiving end of patience and kindness and space to let someone be who they are.”
For two decades, Watkins has been one of the most visible artists in roots music, with her catalog ranging from solo albums and Watkins Family Hour, a duo with her brother Sean Watkins, to her Grammy-winning bands Nickel Creek and I’m With Her. She admits that she initially felt conflicted about making a children’s record until she realized that perhaps this album could impact a young listener in the same manner as the music from her own childhood affected her.
The idea for the album began when Watkins was asked to contribute a song to a livestream – specifically, a song that would bring a mellow, centering vibe during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Intrigued with the idea, she agreed to participate, and as her list of potential songs expanded, so did her vision for this project. Her young daughter, who will be 3 years old when the album comes out, can be heard singing with Watkins on “Edelweiss.” It’s a sweet moment, one of many to be found in Under the Pepper Tree.
“I want this album to be a place of calm, imagination, and relief,” Watkins says. “Some days are perfect and things are a dream and make you feel like a superhero. And some days are just… such a challenge. I feel like this record has a place in both of those days, and I really hope that these recordings find a place in kids’ hearts, and become as special to them as they are to me.”
Prior to the sessions, Watkins sequenced the album by practicing its 15 songs to see which ones worked as a piece, naturally leading to the formation of Side A and Side B. Then she crafted smooth transitions between the songs, which makes each half of the album glide by. Watkins states, “Although this album can certainly be enjoyed by listening all the way through, very early on in the planning I began thinking of it as something to be taken one side at a time. I imagine someone dropping the needle on side A one night, and side B the next.”
Watkins leads the album with “Pure Imagination,” a wistful classic from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, one of her favorite films as a child. “Sonically, it really sets the tone, and in terms of the message, that’s how we wanted to set the record up,” she says. “I wanted it to be a place where kids or anyone can listen with their imagination.”
Side A of the album includes “Blue Shadows on the Trail,” a nod to her California childhood singing at Western conventions with Nickel Creek, who reunite on the track. (The cowboy song also appears in another fondly-remembered film, 1986’s The Three Amigos.) Two Disney songs -- “Second Star to the Right” and “When You Wish Upon a Star” -- lend familiarity to young listeners, while Side A concludes with two appealing Watkins originals: The instrumental “Under the Pepper Tree,” and a thoughtful ballad, “Night Singing.”
The album’s evocative title is a nod to the homes of her parents and grandparents, where pepper trees grew in the backyard – and in fact, she recorded “Under the Pepper Tree” beneath the branches of a neighbor’s pepper tree that reaches over into the backyard of the home she shares with her husband and daughter.
In addition, Watkins says she imagines “Night Singing” as a song that could be sung to her daughter, or by a child to a grown-up, or even from the universe to the listener. “There are parts of the song that speak to all of those perspectives, in a way that gives the song longevity to me,” she observes.
On Side B, she welcomes the harmony of I’m With Her on “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and Taylor Goldsmith (of Dawes) on Harry Nilsson’s “Blanket for a Sail,” while Davíd Garza adds his voice and a lovely guitar accompaniment on “Beautiful Dreamer.” Meanwhile, the Disney songs “La La Lu” and “Stay Awake” are found alongside the enduring “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and the closing number, the Beatles’ “Good Night.”
Beyond the music, though, Watkins envisioned Under the Pepper Tree as an inspiring visual project as well. She enlisted Adam Sniezek to create a stunning vinyl package, so children can interact with the record in a deeper way. The idea stemmed from the vintage vinyl releases she’s collected for her daughter.
“You find some that are really beautiful, and there are some Winnie the Pooh albums that we listen to on a daily basis, not just because of what they sound like, but because of what they look like,” Watkins says. “My daughter will look at the book while I put on the record. The pages don’t tell everything that’s in the song, but that doesn’t matter because sometimes she’s more looking and sometimes she’s more listening. It’s all there, it’s all connected. I want kids to experience my record that way, with all of those senses.