I’m With Her gives existential performance at Knoxville’s Bijou

By Marie Kolzow, Jam Band Director

On March 12, I’m With Her featuring Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan hit the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee for an intimate performance as a part of their See You Around tour.

The house was packed for the trio as all three members have had previous successes in their careers. With Grammy-Winning solo careers and co-founding bands like Nickel Creek and Crooked Still it’s no surprise I’m With Her is selling out shows all over the country.

Having formed in 2014 at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the impromptu collaboration showed the trio had something too special not to pursue. Jarosz, Watkins, and O’Donovan spent a couple days in LA to write songs and I’m With Her officially formed. Many of their ideas for their full length album “See You Around” came from a week long session tucked away in Vermont.

I’m With Her took the stage in a sea of instruments, starting with the title track to “See You Around.” They continued playing from the album with “Ryland (Under The Apple Tree),” a song originally written by Julian Lage that the trio twisted to make it their own. The band’s story shows they are no strangers to traveling.

“We’ve been told a lot of the songs on our album are about traveling,” Watkins said before playing the song “Overland.”

I’m With Her, from left to right Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan, perform at the Bijou Theatre on March 12, 2018. (Marie Kolzow/WUTK)

Not only is that song about traveling but also about living. Within the album’s theme of traveling is raw emotion like on “Ain’t That Fine” which addresses accepting all of the ups and downs of life. The variety of emotions people experience in life are apparent in the musicianship on “See You Around.” With spine chilling harmonies in “Wild One” and hard guitar riffs on “I-89” “See You Around” shows the band’s dynamic songwriting abilities.

Although the show focused on the songs from their newest album, I’m With Her also played songs like “Little Lies” which they released on an EP when they were on the American Acoustic tour with the Punch Brothers. A request was shouted out by an audience member for the song “Crossing Muddy Waters” which was also released on a previous EP.

“Ask and you shall receive,” Watkins said. “It helps that the song involves the instruments we’re holding.”

Along with performing original songs, I’m With Her added their harmonies to Adele’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover).” The encore featured a performance of the fully instrumental, high spirited “Waitsfield” and a cover of Bill Monroe’s “Lord, Lead Me On.”

With their lively, honest songwriting and bright, feminine personalities, I’m With Her left the audience moved with its emphasis on the importance of experiences. That said, their first album “See You Around” is undeniably one to check out.