Illinois Valley Folk Music






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Photo by Eric Rejman.

Photo by Eric Rejman.

Illinois Valley Folk Music

In the past two years singer-songwriter and swift picker Daniel Watkins has gone from a newcomer to a familiar name in the Central Illinois music scene. Rummaging through his father’s old cassette tapes, he discovered The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds, and Grateful Dead prior to high school. Hearing Jerry Garcia and David Grisman playing together on the Old and In the Way album sparked the flame of folk and bluegrass that is alive today in Watkins’ original music.

Daniel released his first full length record in December 2018 and followed it up with his new EP, Clay Birds Vol. I in the spring of 2019. Daniel incorporates musical and topical elements of the current era across the backdrop of traditional folk and bluegrass music. Daniel is most celebrated for his relatable stories, swift flat-picking, and memorable melodies.

In addition to his solo work, Watkins performs as a member of Harvest Sons, Down River, and Wes Duffy Trio. He has also shared the stage with acts throughout Illinois and beyond including Willie Watson (formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show), Henhouse Prowlers, Chicago Farmer, Eric Lambert, Still Shine, and Matthew Michael & Christina Marie.

“Somebody comes up to me at a show and says, “You really should have this kid sit in with you.” So, we did. Here’s the thing though; he stepped on the stage and played with both bravado and humility. Daniel can pick. He’s the real deal.”

– Ben Wright of Henhouse Prowlers

"Watkins' beautiful melodies and lyrical imagery leave indelible imprints in your brain.” 

- Jon Norton WGLT Music Director

“Every time I see Daniel Watkins perform it seems his voice, guitar playing, and passion for music has grown stronger. Dynamically, he knows when to pick a storm and when to clear the skies for his voice and lyrics. He’s definitely someone I’m keeping my ears on.”

– Cody Diekhoff aka Chicago Farmer