Laughing in the face of controversy: Uncle Watson’s Widow

Uncle Watson's Widow
(Image credit: Uncle Watson's Widow)

Uncle Watson’s Widow are a band on a mission. They’re going to drive a tsunami through the traditionally still waters of blues and rock, and then make it relevant for a modern audience. Forget the beer swilling cliches of old. Southern rock may never be the same again. 

Featuring the crème de la crème of the North Carolina music scene – Steve Jones (vocals guitars), Jon Epstein (bass), Bekkah Moss (vocals), Kim King (guitars), Scott Williams (drums) and Steve Mowery (keyboards and bass) - their debut album “Hindsight” is already attracting rave reviews and controversy in equal measure.

“Bands that happen organically are inevitably better than bands that you just put together,” says Epstein. 

“Kim and I have been a number of projects together over the past five or six years,” he adds. “Bekkah was in a R&B band with me, as was our drummer, Scott and our piano player, Steve. We were all in another band. Then the other guitar player [in that group] decided to stage a coup and kicked me out. The very next day, everyone else called me and said ‘we’re going with you’. That’s how Uncle Watson’s Widow came to be.”

Their debut album includes some tasty covers, including Joe Bonamassa’s Driving Towards The Daylight and Grace Potter’s Ragged Company, but they opted to put out an original song – Run Too Far – as the lead single, which features Moss on lead vocals. 

“It was a song about being comfortable with taking chances, and being comfortable enough to know when you’re done,” explains Epstein. “And to be okay, here now. I’ve had it in demo form for years and never found anyone who could tackle it, until Bekkah came along.”

As much as Uncle Watson’s Widow are a band who let the music do the talking, the cover of Hindsight has proved to be highly controversial in the politically divided United States. 

Uncle Watson's Widow

The cover for 'Hindsight' (Image credit: Uncle Watson's Widow)

“It was a play on the whole ‘hindsight is 2020’ thing,” says Epstein. “I was thinking about what a year 2020 was while we were making this album, and what were the things that seem to be the most relevant? It was the pandemic. It was the unrest over here in the United States and it was the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“So, I put all those elements together on the cover, just to say hindsight is 2020. It's a cautionary thing, right? Look what happened, you know?”

As well as tackling the big issues of the day, Uncle Watson’s Widow are not afraid to drag the sounds of rock and blues into the 21st century with weird and wonderful guitars. 

“We use a lot of weird stuff,” admits Epstein. “But the technology for guitarists has come a long way since 1960. We're finding all this harmonic stuff happening, just because we're using these different instruments.”

“The fact that we use so many instruments and aren't afraid to blend everything, I think that really helps reach all types of people,” adds Moss. 

The band’s reach has provided to be much wider than their native North Carolina, with the music really striking a chord on in the UK too. “I have been trying to figure that out for a long time,” says Epstein. “The British understand this particular genre of music in a way that we don't over here, probably because you invented it. You took the took the good ideas that Americans had and turned it into an art. 

“So far, the reaction has been extraordinary. The tread is really coming from everywhere but the United States. Folks in Scotland, in England, in particular, are buying it. People in New Zealand in Australia are buying it. People in Canada are buying it.” 

Not being a band who believe in sitting on their laurels, Uncle Watson’s Widow are already thinking about the next album, which should be out within the next year. 

And as for advice for any other up and coming bands out there, Epstein says “don’t be afraid to take chances with your music experiment”. 

“There is no dogma in rock and roll,” he adds.

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