The great Doc Watson – the complete folk musician if there ever was one – passed away today at 89. When he began recording in the early-1960s, Doc set the standard for every virtuoso acoustic guitarist who would follow after. And Doc was not just a great flatpicker, he was an incredible fingerpicker, a great banjo frailer, and as warm a singer as you can imagine with a repertoire that spanned traditional and contemporary folk music, bluegrass, blues, rockabilly and more.
I can still vividly remember the first time I saw Doc play. I was 16 and sitting up close to the stage, mesmerized, in 1970 at the Back Door Coffee House in Montreal as Doc and Merle Watson – billed as “Doc Watson & Son” – played an amazing concert to 100 or so of us packed into the small room. If I remember correctly, it was during the October Crisis and there were soldiers on the street outside.
I couldn’t begin to imagine all the many hours I’ve spent listening to Doc – every one of those hours worthwhile.
Tonight, I guess, we’ve all got those deep river blues as Doc Watson takes his long journey.
For more on Doc Watson, see this memorial page at Folklore Productions – Doc’s agents for almost his entire career.