John Paul Jones will produce the debut solo album of his one-time touring partner, musician Sara Watkins. The California-born singer and guitarist reveals on her blog that work on her first solo project is scheduled to take place at the end of February with Jones producing.
"I'm really excited and a bit nervous, but in a good way. In a way that will keep me on my toes and working hard," writes Watkins, who sang for the band Nickel Creek, which played its final concert Nov. 29 in Nashville.
In December 2000, Watkins and the other members of Nickel Creek -- her brother Sean and mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile -- teamed up with Toad the Wet Sprocket singer Glen Phillips to record under the name Mutual Admiration Society. To support the album's release in July 2004, the all-star cast supported it on tour with the additional rhythm section of John Paul Jones on bass and Pete Thomas on drums.
Watkins said her new band began rehearsing in September. In addition to the expected contributions by Jones, the project is to consist of several other holdovers from the Mutual Admiration Society touring lineup. These are Thomas on drums, and both Phillips and Sean Watkins both on guitar and vocals.
They will also be joined by Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on piano and organ, Greg Leisz "on pedal steel and other slidey things," Davey Faragher on bass, and Luke Bulla on vocals, fiddle and guitar.
Sara Watkins writes that her goal will be to record an album with purpose. "Truly what it comes down to is that I'm tired of buying CDs and then thinking 'Really? Did this CD really need to be made? Really?' I don't want people to think that about my record."
Watkins's Myspace page currently includes an a cappella demo of her singing an original called "Where Will You Be," alongside a pair of demos she recorded in 2004 with her brother and two other musicians. She plays fiddle on both of those tracks and also sings on one.
She writes, "If I had put something out two or three years ago, that would have undoubtedly been the reaction of many. But I think the timing is right and I am hopeful it'll be something I'm proud of."
Watkins also writes that she and her brother attended Led Zeppelin's Dec. 10 reunion concert "and it was completely worth the trip," she recalls. "Without a doubt. They were great and it was a privilege to be there on that Momentous night."
She says the highlight for her was the band's performance of "Kashmir." "Now there's a band," Watkins writes. "It was surreal. I can't imagine what it was like for the band. All the things they were remembering and thinking about."
Jones has produced many albums over the years for bands including R.E.M., the Mission U.K., and the Butthole Surfers. Most recently, Jones produced Waterloo, Tennessee, the sophomore album by Uncle Earl.