Roxie Watson: Reviews
"Roxie Watson is essentially a supergroup of veterans from the Atlanta women's rock scene -- they recently opened for the Indigo Girls and Amy Ray. The experience they've had accompanying each other -- in addition to their natural chemistry -- is clear on all of their songs. The quintet sings and plays as if they're of one mind.
The album itself emphasizes hope and strength in the face of all odds. Goodness knows we could all use that extra strength right now. However, Roxie Watson never comes off as strident or earnest. It's as if you had some of your old friends hanging out on your porch -- an affect I know the band was trying for and ultimately succeeded them. We've got songs about coal mining, break ups, love, and Georgia's ridiculous blue laws. (Though I gotta say, it's hard to top Pennsylvania when it comes to arbitrary rules about the sale of alcohol.)
Buy this album. Lie on the bed. Hit play. Close your eyes. Think of the good times you've had and the better times you're about to have. That's what Roxie Watson wants you to do. This album is the perfect medicine for a wounded heart."
"There is a new generation of women bluegrass musicians, inspired by and grateful to the trailblazers that went before. Two days after Dickens' death on April 22, the Atlanta-based, five piece Roxie Watson Band took the stage in Blue Ridge, GA and offered a second-set tribute of an original song dedicated to coal miners, the poor, the dispossessed, and the working women that Dickens so passionately championed.
Banjo player and former Cowboy Mouth bassist, Sonia Tetlow, was circumspect backstage at the Blue Ridge Community Theatre, where a packed house of 200 was settling in for the performance. This was the second time that the Roxie Watson Band was in town and organizers at Out of the Blue Gourmet Dining had predicted that seats would sell out fast. They were right and the turnout was impressive considering there aren't many more than 1500 people in the town. Tetlow was well aware that the memory of Dickens' passing was something that would drive one of the songs that night.
"Just reading Hazel's obituary this morning, and how she is the first woman to get an honor from the Bluegrass Association, and it wasn't until the nineties, you know. She had been playing all though the sixties and seventies and I thought about wanting to come up here to play this show and you know, I just have to salute her," Tetlow said.
Tetlow was referring a songwriter award for Dickens' "Mama's Hand," recorded by Lynn Morris in 1996 and the 1993 Distinguished Achievement Award from Nashville's International Bluegrass Association.
Roxie Watson is a five-piece string band from Atlanta that plays, what they like to call, "alterna-grass." It mixes traditional three and four part harmonies, elements of old country, Appalachian music, hymns and bluegrass. The band likes to say that they don't adhere to "the traditions of any one genre," but the way they mix it up with mandolin, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, lap steel, button accordion and harmonica -- adds to, rather than detracts from, the traditional sounds of "pure" bluegrass.
The audience loved it. These women are more than proficient as musicians, have a warm way with a story, and a natural stage banter that comes from a long history of friendship and community. The stage morphs into a back porch with the audience becoming honored guests in an intimate setting that is a heck of a lot of fun, heartwarming, and heartrending when it needs to be. The front row at the community theater was close enough to the stage that audience members' knees and boots were resting on the apron.
As vocalist Becky Shaw tore up the signature Dolly Parton tune, "Jolene," the audience was tapping and humming along, broad smiles beaming into the darkness. There is something about a familiar tune done well that cuts to the core. "Jolene" was a risky choice to play for an audience that lives and works in the gateway to the Appalachian Mountains. Comments on the band's Facebook page might have Dolly sit up and take notice of these young 'uns. Tetlow's banjo and Shaw's buttonbox added just the right elements, turning a classic country tune into bluegrass all the way. Never mind 'alterna-grass'......"
"When you have a group of women who are natural story-tellers, who sooth their aggressive musical chops with beautiful harmonies, temper their rock-n-roll sensibilities with an understanding of Appalachian tradition, and come off as a little bit Keith Richards, a little bit Bill Monroe, you get Roxie Watson."
"So you wanna start an all girl 5 piece bluegrass / folky / trad / cover / original band that plays and sings like wily crafty veterans and harmonizes like the angels? o-k. but 1st, you better go see and hear Roxie Watson, cause that's what they are doing. And not only doing...but kicking booty and taking names!"
"This all woman talented team of singer songwriter's turned Blue Ridge on its ear at our annual 4th of July parade. We have seen alot, but never a band on stage and a pick up truck at the same time! Talk about fun, family, and down-home goodness, this is the Band."
"Roxie Watson are a sunny/earthy Americana-inflected group... their CD, True Stories, is a gentle pleasure for anyone willing to let a few sweetly-sung country tunes carry their troubles away."
"These musicians ha[ve] jelled into a nifty little bluegrass band... Nice blended vocals and easy-going picking give the record [True Stories] a real down-home feel."