Magazine article Guitar Player

Doc Watson, 1923-2012: A Personal Tribute by Marty Cutler

Magazine article Guitar Player

Doc Watson, 1923-2012: A Personal Tribute by Marty Cutler

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

MY FIRST TASTE OF DOC WATSON'S genius came from Country Music and Bluegrass at Newport: 1963--a compilation of live performances culled from the Newport Folk Festival. I bought the album for Jim &Jesse and Allen Shelton's banjo playing, but I was transfixed by Watson's solo guitar performances--a flat picking rendition of "Black Mountain Rag," his guitar translation of a well-known fiddle tune, and "Doc's Guitar," a fingerpicked tour de force. More than that, Watson's guitar accompaniment on "Maggie Walker Blues" with Clarence Ashley, Fred Price, and Clint Howard was punctuated with dark and funky fills that could have easily come from his electric guitar chops.

Up until that point, I'd been a dedicated banjo player, but Watson's performances pulled me toward the guitar. I spent weeks slowing down his tracks to try to catch every nuance. "Black Mountain Rag" took the picking conventions of bluegrass and supercharged them with lightning-fast, note-for-note renditions of fiddle tunes using alternating up-and-down strokes, and banjo-style rolling effects. Other bluegrass musicians, such as Don Reno, helped to move bluegrass guitar front-and-center as a lead instrument, but none could spin off flashy solo lines as articulately, or with an innately smooth and relaxed feel as Watson.

About three years after I first discovered Watson, he came to New York City for a week's stay at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village. That Sunday, along with mandolinist David Grisman and several other friends, Watson paid a visit to the Village's storied Sunday jams at Washington Square Park. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.