As a member of Nickel Creek, Sean Watkins has won a Grammy, he’s had albums go Platinum and Gold, he’s traveled the world, and he’s worked with some of the biggest names in music. Not too shabby for a first band, right? Of course, it took many years and countless hours of practice before any of that happened. Before his Nickel Creek tenure and long before the start of Watkins Family Hour and his fruitful solo project, Watkins was dabbling in bluegrass at a pizza place outside of San Diego and anywhere else he was able to play…so long as his parents could give him a ride.

Prior to Watkins Family Hour’s upcoming run of Midwest shows in belated support of last year’s Brother Sister, Sean Watkins spoke to My First Band host Tyler Maas about childhood piano lessons, starting Nickel Creek when he was 12 (and his sister/bandmate Sara was just eight), and how a mix of adult encouragement, chance meetings, and hard work helped set him on musical journey that’s lasted roughly 35 years and counting. Over the course of the conversation, Watkins talked about collaborating with Dolly Parton and John C. Reilly, what’s to come from Nickel Creek and Watkins Family Hour in 2022, and much more.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering and Lakefront Brewery. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and Watkins Family Hour (“The Cure”).