EDITOR'S NOTE: Aoife O'Donovan's name was misspelled in the print edition. Her name is corrected below.
SAXAPAHAW — The trio I'm With Her put on a sold-out show at the Haw River Ballroom on Tuesday night.
I’m With Her is made up of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan (pronounced Ee-fa). Angelic and ethereal, their harmonious folk-infused music speaks to an audience of all ages. To name a category this group would fit is impossible as they combine inflections of many different sounds into one. The musical provenance making up this unassuming group of talented women is strong. The band formed after an impromptu performance at the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival and has traveled the world performing.
Watkins is founding member of Grammy award-winning group Nickel Creek, has collaborated with brother Sean Watkins to produce a "Watkins Family Music Hour," as well as performed many music collaborations and recorded three solo albums.
Declared a music prodigy at age 9, Jarosz, now 26, has been a rising star since her teen years in the Austin, Texas music scene. She won two Grammys in 2017, nominated and won a host of other music awards. She has four solo albums and has toured with various artists and shows including Garrison Keillor’s "A Prairie Home Companion" show and subsequent tour.
O’Donovan is a singer/songwriter and the lead vocalist for the progressive bluegrass group Crooked Still. She also performs with Sometymes Why, a neo-traditional folk noir trio. In addition, she has five solo albums. Her song "Lay My Burden Down" was recorded by Bluegrass music legend Alison Krauss. She is a regular guest on “Live From Here,” a live radio music show hosted by Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile.
The house lights dimmed to showcase a stage full of instruments ranging from fiddles, mandolins, banjos and an array of acoustic, electric and bass guitars. The ladies took the stage starting with “Ain’t That Fine” a track from their album, “See You Around,” which was released in February of this year.
Each song brought a new sound and a different set of instruments. Some of the fan favorites were “Under the Apple Tree,” “Game to Lose,” “Overland," “Crossing Muddy Waters” and a cover of Adele’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”. Their voices were complementary and melodic. It never felt like competition between the voices and the women seemed comfortable with each other. The closing song of the encore was “Be My Husband,” an entirely a capella song performed at the edge of the stage without microphones, laying silence to the room as they sang.
This concert was a delight to see. The audience was swept away with sounds of real, gritty, intense music accompanied by sweet voices in perfect harmony. There was nothing electronic about this show, just three women pouring their hearts into their craft. The ladies’ instrumental abilities were outstanding, offering up frequent change of instruments, executed seamlessly. Angelic voices drew concertgoers into the magnificence of each song. Cellphones were only out to take photos of the musicians.
I’m With Her will be performing Sept. 13 at the McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square in Charlotte. Tickets are $25 to $37.50 and can be purchased at www.carolinatix.org/.
Suzanna Chriscoe is a former creative services manager at the Times-News. She lives in Franklinville.