When Earl Scruggs died, I had a feeling that his longtime friend Artel “Doc” Watson would soon follow. I hate to be right sometimes.
Doc Watson died on May 29th. It’s hard to explain my relationship to the man’s music. Growing up, my father would go down in the basement and play from his collection of folk and bluegrass records. He had huge speakers, the old kind that could serve as end tables or coffee tables, and the music wafted up through the floorboards. As a result I grew up not so much listening to bluegrass but surrounded by it.
Doc Watson is a mutual favorite. The old blind man from Deep Gap North Carolina had a deceptively simple style that could appeal to both generations. He was best know for his flat picking, which he demonstrates to good effect in this version of Black Mountain Rag:
This is one of my favorites, Doc’s “courting song,” Shady Grove:
Doc had a knack for surrounding himself with talented friend. Earl Scruggs is a good example. Here’s Doc with his friends Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, David “Dawg” Grisman and Tony Rice: