The spring season has brought a plethora of innovative and exciting times to the forefront for Americana standout Willie Watson. With a new album, Folk Singer Vol. 1, set for release on May 6, Watson is also in the middle of a tour that will form a trifecta of appearances in Nashville, Tenn. around the release of his new work.
It’s no secret Watson’s days with Old Crow Medicine show are that of the past, but his style and voice have always stood out in its own right, whether it be with a band or his solo work.
“Everything is definitely a different experience. This solo thing has been a learning experience for sure. I’ve played in a band for so long and I’m sort of figuring out how to work those shows and keep it rolling along,” Willie Watson said during a recent phone interview regarding hitting the road again.
Watson’s current string of dates will place him in front of many audiences that range from personal, mid-size venues to festivals such as Stagecoach Festival, Forecastle Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Pickathon.
When performing in different spaces with audiences that range in size, Watson notes that he has been adapting quite well to the change in scenery, both from the solo performance aspect and the ability to gauge the audience as well.
“For some of the festivals it’s just me. It can be a challenge to reach everybody. When it’s just me all I can do is sing and play and do my thing. For me, I don’t hear the same things as other people hear. I listen for different things. It’s nice when they go over well,” Watson said.
While in Music City, Watson will have his record release party at Grimey’s on May 6 and will perform the following two nights at Music City Roots and The Station Inn respectively.
“I like to get out on the road and play music for people. I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s been a long time since I’ve played at The Station Inn. It’s a nice small room and people will listen. It will be like a homecoming and I’m looking forward to it,” Watson added about his Nashville dates.
As for the record, Folk Singer, Vol. 1, it’s back to familiar territory for Watson as he made a return to Nashville’s Woodland Studios with David Rawlings at the helm.
Recorded last summer during two sessions, Watson aimed to keep the process simple and focus on the intangibles that purely make a song agreeable and good for the listener.
“It was great. We’re right on the same page musically. We have a lot of the same likes and dislikes. I trust Dave and he has an amazing ear for how things fit together. We each had our job do. I did my part and he did his, and e knows what is pleasing to the ear,” Watson said about working with Rawlings once again.
The album features 10 songs and has been billed as ranging in styles from folk standards to obscure gems.
Watson says two of his favorites are “James Alley Blues” along with “Kitty Puss” and will perform many cuts off the album during his shows.
“We have a whole batch of songs that didn’t make the cut too. I’m always looking for new songs to sing. It will be like the record but an expanded version,” Watson hinted about his set list for the tour.