Friday, December 26, 2014

Blind Boys of Alabama, fiddler Sara Watkins to play holiday tunes at Mondavi

The Blind Boys of Alabama will present a Christmas show at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, in Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts featuring special guests Sara and Sean Watkins. This holiday spectacular, "Go Tell It on the Mountain," is a roof-raising musical event featuring bluesy, gospel versions of seasonal favorites, old and new. Courtesy photo

From page A7 | December 08, 2011 |


Who: The Blind Boys of Alabama, with Sara and Sean Watkins

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15

Where: Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis

Tickets: $25-$49 general, $12.50-$24.50 for students; or (530) 754-2787

The Blind Boys of Alabama will return to the Mondavi Center at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, with their touring holiday show — and this year, the Blind Boys are bringing bluegrass/country fiddler Sara Watkins and her elder brother Sean, a guitarist, as their opening act.

The Blind Boys of Alabama — sometimes known as the Five Blind Boys of Alabama during phases of their career — originally got together in 1939 at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in Talledega, Ala. The group toured for decades on the Southern gospel circuit, performing at countless churches, community halls and other venues. They started recording in 1948, releasing numerous discs on various labels over the years.

The Blind Boys came to the attention of Broadway audiences in 1983, when they played a prominent part in the popular musical “The Gospel at Colonus,” and that show’s success led to bookings around the country at colleges and theaters where gospel groups had not often performed in the past.

Since then, the group has built a big following. Over the past 30 years, the Blind Boys have received five Grammy Awards, performed at the White House and collaborated with all manner of pop stars. Original member Jimmy Carter (born in 1929) still sings and tours with the Blind Boys, while other younger members of the group have joined in recent decades.

The group’s 2003 Christmas album, “Go Tell It On The Mountain,”  contains much of the material featured in the holiday show. But the group’s most recent disc — “Take The High Road” (2011) — features the Blind Boys in a role they’d never previously explored on an album: a full-length set of duets with country/western artists.

The blending of black gospel and country sounds is more common than you might think. Many white country artists have recorded gospel albums (including songs that originated in the black church), and many gospel singers have long enjoyed country music on the radio.

“All my life, I’ve loved country music,” Carter told an interviewer earlier this year. “I was raised up around it. Back in the 1940s, I remember listening to Hank Williams and so many others. Their voices were great. The writers were great. And every song had a meaning. I still have loads of country music in my home and I play it all the time.”

So perhaps it should not come as a surprise that the opening artists on the Blind Boys holiday season tour are the Watkins siblings. Sara Watkins took part in five albums with the band Nickel Creek and she released a self-titled solo album in 2009.

In addition to fiddling, Watkins is a singer/songwriter and occasionally performs on ukelele and guitar as well. She’s been a regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s long-running NPR show “Prairie Home Companion,” and even served as guest host of the program earlier this year. She is at work on her second solo album.

Tickets for the concert are $25-$49 general, $12.50-$24.50 for students, available at or (530) 754-2787.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at or (530) 747-8055.



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Pastor has many plans for CA House

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Exchange students bring the world to Davis

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Transit survey: 47 percent ride bikes to campus

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Special holiday gifts

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A3

    Woodland-Davis commute bus service expands

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Learn fruit tree tips at free class

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Davis Bike Club hears about British cycling tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pick up a Davis map at Chamber office

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Explorit: Get a rise out of science

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4

    NAMI meeting offers family support

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Yoga, chanting intro offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



    How much for the calling birds?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Steve Sack cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    Many ensured a successful parade

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Thanks for putting food on the table

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10



    Two more for the road for 9-1 Aggie men

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Patterson is college football’s top coach

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Clippers get a win over Golden State

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    NBA roundup: Heat beat Cavs in LeBron’s return to Miami

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery





    ‘Unbroken': A bit underwhelming

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Folk musicians will jam on Jan. 2

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11



    Passat: Roomy, affordable sedan with German engineering

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery



    James J. Dunning Jr.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Floyd W. Fenocchio

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Friday, December 26, 2014 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7

    Comics: Thursday, December 26, 2014 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: A9