It goes without saying there is no sound like a Doc Watson sound. In fact, it’s quite unimaginable to have Applacahian/roots music without the sound of Doc Watson. The North Carolina native was one of the prominent figures who played a large role in the rise of the musical genre. Indeed, through his unique picking style and baritone voice, his influence on a string of musicians is undeniable. From the likes of Tony Rice, Norman Blake, Clarance White to today’s young musicians like Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle and Bryan Sutton to name a few.
Until this day, Watson holds an important role in the growth of American music.
In 1962, Watson and his father in law Gaither Carlton played two-night shows in New York. marking a historical moment in the folk revival scene which influenced generation after generation. Today Smithsonian Folkways is set to release live recordings of the two-night on both CD and Vinyl titled Doc Watson and Gaither Carltonon March 29th. Watson’s career began in a rockabilly band with an electric guitar. As the folk scene grew so did the demand for it. That’s when folklorist Ralph Rinzler stumbled upon Watson and discovered his music in the early 60s. With Rinzler’s convincing, Watson’s electric guitar turned into an acoustic, from rockabilly tunes to traditional all in while picking up the banjo. Accompanied by his father in law fiddle player Gaither Carlton, the duo went to play all over the country singing traditional tunes of the Appalachia.
Fall of 62, Rinzler booked Watson and Carlton two shows in New York. with nothing to expect they were welcomed with open arms and thrill as the tracklist shows. The album features a string of old-time favourites which includes the likes of “Handsome Molly” where Watson displays his stylistic banjo playing. Two versatile versions of “Groundhog” where Gaither helps pick the banjo while Watson on guitar (“Groundhog”- Blind Lemon’s version) and album closer (“Groundhog” F.T.O.M version) This time around Watson is on banjo and Carlton on fiddle. Other notable tracks include “Corrina,” “Billy in The Lowground.” with Watson’s simple yet emotive playing and Carlton’s supercharged fiddle playing.
As the audience’s cheers and claps continue to build up so does Watson’s and Carlton’s enthusiasm. The 15 track album is a capsule of cosmic fairytale of ballads and tragic tales that captures a vital role in the spread of traditional music today.
Thanks to young Peter Siegel, everyone now can travel in time and relive the special night.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks