While its name may seem like a political statement, the three Grammy-winning folk musicians that make up the trio I’m With Her weren’t giving a shout-out to a former Secretary of State when they christened the band. In fact, they’d been playing together for more than a year when the name became a campaign slogan.
It’s not surprising that the somewhat-under-the-radar all-star Americana group of Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins, Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan, and solo artist Sarah Jarosz still gets asked about it.
“We feel it has a bigger meaning,” Watkins says. “We all identify with the camaraderie that the name portrays — the fact that we’re all team players and support each other.”
What started as a one-off performance four years ago has grown into a full-time group with a new album of mostly originals, “See You Around,” released in February. The trio plays McGlohon Theater Thursday.
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All three women grew up playing music in the male-dominated field of bluegrass, but they say the uniqueness of the band is not based on the members’ gender.
“I think it’s the three musicians we are, the way we communicate and our writing styles and goals and compatibility,” Watkins says.
Watkins, Jarosz and O’Donovan certainly weren’t looking to start a girl group when they were asked to collaborate at a show in Telluride in 2014.
“We got together backstage and really enjoyed that process of coming together and finding parts and learning each other’s songs,” she says. “Even then, you could tell we communicated and adapted well together.”
Since all three were accomplished solo artists who’d honed their craft in bands, Watkins says none of them take on a particular role in the band.
“It’s not really like we need a shredder or a lyric writer,” she says. “One thing we enjoy about it is each of us has toured under a lot of different circumstances and in different collaborations. We’ve all been frontpeople and we’ve been involved in collaborations of various types, fulfilling different roles as needed and adapting. I think that’s something that makes us stronger individually and as a group.
On “See You Around,” they trade off on leads, with Watkins taking them on “Ain’t That Fine” — which celebrates the simpler things, how people connect, and how our differences aren’t as consequential once we’re grownups.
“I do hope to spend as much time as I can looking around and enjoying the people around me and the home we have,” she says. “Another thing that song is inspired by is the way we come together. As adults, we find each other in friendships and working scenarios and relationships of all different kinds. When we come together as adults, we find that things that might have been extraordinary when you were younger, defining things in people lives, aren’t that big of a deal anymore. Experiences that set you apart when you were a teenager are less important as you get older, as we come together.”