Watkins Family Hour: Vol II review – a great night out with ringside seats

It takes a special chemistry for any residency to endure for 20 years. As much shines through this celebration of the monthly get-together hosted by the sibling duo Sara and Sean Watkins at LA’s Largo nightspot. As co-founders of the hugely successful (and innovative) bluegrass band Nickel Creek, since 2002 the Watkinses have attracted a stellar roster of friends and fellow travellers to revive yesteryear classics and garb new favourites in Nashville clothing.

So it goes with this second studio gathering (the first was in 2015), which opens with The Way I Feel Inside, a 1965 song by Brit moptops the Zombies, recast with the help of New York indie outfit Lucius. More radical is the way (Remember Me) I’m the One Who Loves You, a chunk of loungecore schlock by Dean Martin, becomes a honky-tonk hoedown voiced by Fiona Apple. The late country pioneer Ernest Tubb is hauled into an R&B version of Thanks a Lot by “Largo mascot” Jon Brion, while Willie Watson and Jackson Browne are among other notable contributors. Underpinning everything are the Watkinses themselves, especially the agile vocals of Sara, who outshines California art rockers Tune-Yards on a cover of their Hypnotized. But it’s not a competition, just a great night out with a ringside seat.