Hugh plays one the upright electric 5-string basses he designed and built from scratch. It was inspired by the Renaissance viola da gamba and the work of German bassist Eberhard Weber (ECM label). He was assisted in construction by Carl Felder. The Watkins Bass is unorthodox - a hybrid of old world aesthetics and new world electronics. Hugh has been performing on the instrument since 1983. Recently, he has been writing songs on a Stella 4-string tenor guitar circa 1940's. His most recent musical instrument creation is the "Eros" bass, which has the tuning machines at the bottom end for improved balance and ergonomics. A sampling of his original music and diverse collection of instruments, including things like kalimba and berrimbau, is featured on his 15 song demo CD. Audio samples can be heard at his MySpace page - myspace.com/hughwatkins.
Hugh has worked with a wide variety of musical groups including Mt. Lebanon High School Orchestra & Stage Band, Quintessence jazz ensemble, Southminster Ringers handbell choir, Shoes of Migration, Gemini G band, George Gee's make-believe Ballroom Orchestra, Art Now Group, Floyd Beck Band, Devilish Merry, LatinoAmericanta, Sounds of Brazil, Guaracha salsa featuring Miguel Sague and Ploughman's Lunch featuring Karl Mullen. Ploughmen and Guaracha have opened shows for the likes of Pete Seeger, The Chieftans, Black 47, 10,000 Maniacs, Rusted Root, A3, Chumbawamba, Willy & Lobo, Eileen Ivers, Richie Havens, Babatunde Olatunji and Lionel Young. With Ploughman's Lunch, he has worked in the recording studio with such luminaries as Pat Kilbride (Battlefield Band), Paddy Keenan (Bothy Band), Phil Chevron (The Pogues), Jennifer Goree (Appalachian Soul) and Tom Compton (Johnny Winter) as well as with Johnny Byrne (recording engineer for U2, Sinead O'Connor, The Chieftains, Christy Moore, Boomtown Rats, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, Black 47, Eileen Ivers). Check out Hugh's original music demo CD at MySpace. myspace.com/hughwatkins