Folk singer trio brings 'Use Your Voice' tour to Jorgensen

Folk singers Patty Griffin (left) and Anaïs Mitchell perform a show on their national "Use Your Voice 2016" tour in the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs, Connecticut on Saturday, March 5, 2016. (/The Daily Campus)

A trio of folk singers, including a Grammy Award winner, urged the crowd at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts to vote as part of their national “Use Your Voice 2016” tour, encouraging the crowd to vote ahead of the 2016 election.

Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins and Anaïs Mitchell lit up the stage with a series of great songs, including both classics and new songs. Griffin was promoted as the biggest performer on stage, with a Grammy Award and several more nominations to her name. She was joined by Mitchell and Watkins, a founding member of the band Nickel Creek and a poet turned songwriter respectively. 

“This is such an amazing tour to be on,” Mitchell said. “This is all Patty’s idea…she called me up about this tour and I said yes, and I didn’t even realize it would be right in the middle of primary season.”

From there, the three launched into a series of folk songs. They also added an interesting twist to the performance by switching up what instruments each performer played depending on the song. The three took turns playing piano, guitar, violin and even drums, showcasing the musical talent and versatility of the three. 

The trio had good chemistry on stage, bantering back and forth more as the performance went on.

“I’m going to need one of my happy songs,” Griffin said at one point, to which Mitchell responded, “The only thing about your happy song is the first time you played it on stage, I burst into tears.”

Mitchell showed her background in poetry and ballad-writing when she performed an old Scottish ballad.

“This one’s an old Scottish ballad,” Mitchell said. “It was part of a collection from the turn of the last century. Well, two centuries ago, actually.”

The three worked together very well, but what was surprising was that their solo performances were equally entertaining or more so. Watkins in particular performed a fantastic solo piece.

Although it wasn’t a flawless concert, as Watkins nearly skipped a verse of her own song, the errors added a certain charm to the concert. Watkins drew laughter from the crowd by acknowledging the mistake, then applause when she got back to the verse in its correct place later in the song.

“Trust me, I’m super professional guys,” Watkins said.

The three repeated the message of the tour throughout the concert, reminding everyone to vote in not only the general election but in Connecticut’s primaries. 

“It feels great to be on tour with a message broader than just, ‘listen to our songs!” Mitchell said. 

Near the end of the performance, the performers became more comfortable with the crowd, interacting with audience members and shouting out thanks. When Watkins said, “You’re a very fun audience to play for,” one audience member shouted out, “you’re very fun to listen to,” drawing applause.

Concluding the concert, Griffin again reminded the audience of voting in the upcoming election, with Mitchell chiming in that posting on Facebook and Twitter about the election is not enough.

“We just want people to vote. The eligible voter turnout is so low,” Griffin said, to which Watkins responded, “Tweeting is good, but voting is better.”


Edward Pankowski is life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edward.pankowski@uconn.edu.