Doc Watson SymposiumSaturday, June 30 | 10:30 am
Museum Auditorium, East Building
10:30 am–noon and 1–4 pm
Admission free; ticket from Box Office required
With the recent passing of North Carolina’s legendary singer and guitarist Doc Watson, it seems all the more appropriate that we take stock of his remarkable life and legacy.
We’ve invited several of Doc’s closest friends and musical partners, and other experts, to remember this celebrated artist and North Carolinian in stories and song.
The special gathering takes place on the day of the concert. The program consists of three panel discussions, supplemented by recordings, images, video, and live performance. A brief Q&A concludes each session.
Panel I, 10:30 am–noon
Early Influences and the Beginning of a Brilliant Career
[Wayne Martin, Joe Wilson, David Holt, David Watson]
The morning session examines the roots of Doc’s artistry in the rich musical culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With the aid of recordings, photographs, and video, we trace Doc’s path from Deep Gap to the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, back home to Boone, and finally to a fateful encounter with folklorist Ralph Rinzler, who brought Doc into the wider world.
Panel II, 1–2:15 pm
The Folk Revival and Beyond
[Robert Cantwell, Joe Wilson, Barry Poss, David Holt]
We pick up the trail from where we left off in the morning and chart Doc’s triumphant entry into the urban folk music scene. We discuss the powerful partnership he formed with his son Merle, consider the influence of Doc and Merle’s recording career, including the landmark album Will the Circle Be Unbroken, and conclude with some thoughts about Doc’s legacy.
Panel III, 2:30–4 pm
[David Holt, Bryan Sutton, Wayne Henderson, Jeff Little]
Doc’s musicianship has influenced legions of guitarists and other musicians around the world. We explore the essential elements of his style and technique with assistance from his musical partners and attempt to analyze the Watson magic.
Bob Cantwell is Townsend Ludington Professor of American Studies at UNC–Chapel Hill. He has written and taught extensively on American folk music and the folk revival, and his book Bluegrass Breakdown received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award.
One of Doc’s favorite picking buddies, Wayne Henderson is known for his guitar-making skills, which earned him a National Heritage Fellowship. Wayne lives just across the North Carolina border from Doc, near Rugby, Virginia.
Musician and storyteller David Holt has accompanied Doc on the road since 1998; their musical partnership goes back to the mid 1980s. David’s Grammy Award– winning three-CD compilation of Doc’s best stories and songs, Legacy, presents an indispensable portrait of the man and musician.
Doc was a frequent visitor to Little’s Music Store in Boone, which became a gathering place for informal music making. He made an indelible impression on young Jeff Little, who developed a virtuosic Appalachian piano style heavily influenced by Doc’s guitar technique.
Recently named director of the North Carolina Arts Council, Wayne Martin served for many years as director of the agency’s Folklife Section. He is an expert on the music traditions of western North Carolina and received the first Preserve America Presidential Award for the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative and the Blue Ridge Heritage Trails Guidebook.
Barry Poss is the founder of Sugar Hill Records, an influential and awarding-winning record label that specializes in bluegrass and Americana music. Sugar Hill has released 14 albums devoted to the music of Doc and Merle Watson, three of which received Grammy Awards. The Americana Music Association honored Barry with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
Few are better suited to appreciate the nuances of Doc’s guitar style than Bryan Sutton, the Nashville session star who has been named Guitar Player of the Year six times by the International Bluegrass Music Association. A native of Asheville, North Carolina, he counts Doc as one of his earliest and greatest influences.
Doc’s brother David Watson has provided a lifetime of support and encouragement for Doc. David resides in Boone, North Carolina.
Joe Wilson recently retired from a long tenure as executive director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts. A native of Mountain City, Tennessee, he established and directed the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Galax, Virginia. Joe has known and worked with Doc for over 50 years.
Thanks to these organizations and individuals for their assistance with this program:
North Carolina Arts Council, Wayne Martin, Director
PineCone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, William Lewis, Executive Director
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution, Jeff Place, Director
Southern Folklife Collection, UNC–Chapel Hill, Steve Weiss, Director
See more in this series:
Find other events like this:
All events on this day:
June 30, 2012