No matter the number of side projects or extracurricular interests between her and musical partner Amy Ray, Emily Saliers will always be an Indigo Girl.
“Always,” she said with a smile. “We still love playing together.”
For more than 25 years, Ray and Saliers have blended their tart and sweet talents into some of folk-pop’s most enduring and harmonically gorgeous songs – you think “Power of Two” or “Ghost” are any less affecting today than they were decades ago? – while always maintaining their separate creative outlets.
Ray, who lives in the north Georgia mountains, recently released her fourth solo album, “Lung of Love,” while Decatur-ite Saliers has been immersed in Watershed, the Southern cuisine restaurant she co-owns with Ross Jones that opened in its new South Buckhead location in May.
Earlier this summer, the charmingly low-key Saliers sat in Watershed’s back private dining room – a comfortably open and chic space where songs from Jack Johnson and Stevie Nicks played overhead – and nibbled on chef/managing partner Joe Truex’s “crabby shrimp burger” to talk about the restaurant and her music.
The Indigo Girls released a new album last October, “Beauty Queen Sister,” which Saliers called a “very organic” release sprinkled with a bit of pop. On tour all summer, they’ve reached back to songs from their first album while tossing in a few newer tracks and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue.”
Then there are the gotta-plays, most notably “Closer to Fine,” which fans heading to their sold out show at Atlanta Botanical Garden will hear for the umpteenth time.
Saliers swears she isn’t weary of performing the song.
“I should get tired, but I don’t!” she said. “Everybody [in the crowd] just singing together is always fun. And we always have a guest, either the opening act or people from the audience, sing with us, so it’s different every night.”
On several dates this summer, Saliers and Ray performed with local symphonies – a first for them – and will continue those shows through the end of the year.
Saliers joked that she wasn’t sure why the duo was bitten by the symphonic bug, but it felt like an appropriate path.
“With me and Amy, why did we make a holiday record last year? I don’t know. This has been on the back burner for awhile. We stay pretty busy and we like to keep putting material out, so this seemed like the perfect time,” she said.
Timing is important to Saliers, who believed it was best to relocate Watershed – named for an Indigo Girls song – after 13 years in its Decatur location.
“It had run its course [there]. When we opened we were a gift shop, and a flower shop and a deli and that morphed into a restaurant. We wanted to offer an outdoor patio and a private dining room as well as a causal one, and to create a really nice bar,” she said. “This [space] is very comforting, but elegant. Understated is the word I would use.”
Saliers considers herself a “big foodie” and is proud that the original Watershed was one of the purveyors of the farm-to-table movement more than a decade ago. She’s also quick to commend Jones and Truex on their respective roles, praising their “heart and soul.”
“The restaurant business is hard,” she said matter-of-factly. “I couldn’t do either of their jobs. There’s no way.”
Saliers can, though, remain a musical presence, as she’ll be on the road with Ray through the holidays and also squeeze in appearances with her father, Don, a retired theology professor at Emory University, with whom she wrote the book, “A Song to Sing, a Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice.”
But whenever she’s away, she’s unabashed about missing the food at Watershed.
“I’ll go on the road and be good and eat my salad,” she said, “and then come back here and get the hot milk cake.”
Indigo Girls, 8 p.m. Friday. Sold out. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E. 404-876-5859, www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org.
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene