North Carolina folk music icon Doc Watson performs with longtime friend David Holt and grandson Richard Watson on Friday, Nov. 12 at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts to kick off PineCone’s 2010-2011 Down Home Concert Series.
For more than half a century, Arthel “Doc” Watson has been a force in the creation, interpretation and preservation of American roots music. This year, he returns to the PineCone stage with his long-time friend and collaborator David Holt and his grandson Richard Watson to present Hills of Home, which combines hot flat-picking tunes, slow romantic ballads, gutsy blues numbers, delicately picked finger melodies and old-time gospel songs into an unforgettable evening of music. Join these two Grammy Award winning icons as they take you on a musical journey through North Carolina.
Holt and Watson earned a Grammy together in 2002 for Best Traditional Folk Recording for Legacy, a three-CD collection of songs and stories reflecting Watson’s inspiring life story.
Born in Deep Gap, NC in 1923, Watson, who learned to play guitar and banjo as a child, has received numerous honors during his music career: in 2004, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys (he has eight Grammy Awards to his credit), and he was recognized with the National Medal of Arts in 1997.
Watson was also a recipient of both a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award (1989) the North Carolina Award (1986). The North Carolina Award is the highest civilian award bestowed by the state of North Carolina, and it is awarded in the four fields of science, literature, the fine arts, and public service.
In October 2010, Watson was inducted in the NC Music Hall of Fame; in 2000, he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame. And efforts are currently underway to install a life-size bronze statue of Watson in downtown Boone, N.C., as part of the Downtown Boone Development Association (DBDA) public art program.
Watson, who attended Raleigh’s Governor Morehead School for the Blind growing up and whose first guitar was a $12 Stella from Sears Roebuck, has been called “a living national treasure” for his virtuoso flat-picking and his repertoire of traditional folk and bluegrass tunes.
In 1953, he joined Johnson City, Tennessee-based Jack Williams’ country and western swing band. The band seldom had a fiddle player, but often played square dances, so Watson taught himself to play fiddle tunes on his electric guitar. He later transferred the technique to acoustic guitar, and playing fiddle tunes became part of his signature sound. His big break came with a performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963.
Watson recorded his first solo album in 1964 and began performing with his 16-year-old son, Merle. The pair continued to tour and record together until 1985, when Merle died in a tragic tractor accident. In his memory, Watson started MerleFest, which today draws more than 50,000 people a year to North Carolina’s Wilkesboro College to hear what Doc calls “traditional plus” music.
David Holt is a four-time Grammy Award winner who traveled to the Appalachians to pursue his passion for old-time banjo music. He traveled to remote mountain communities like Kingdom Come, Kentucky and Sodom Laurel, North Carolina, searching for the best traditional musicians.
Holt discovered hundreds of old-time mountaineers with a wealth of folk music, stories and wisdom. There was banjoist Wade Mainer, ballad singer Dellie Norton, singing coal miner Nimrod Workman, and 122-year-old washboard player Susie Brunson. Holt learned to play not only banjo, but also many unusual instruments like the mouth bow, the bottleneck slide guitar and even the paper bag. For more than three decades, his passion for traditional music and culture has fueled a successful performing and recording career. He has performed and recorded with many of his mentors including Doc Watson, Grandpa Jones, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff and Chet Atkins. Today he tours the country perfoming solo, with Doc Watson and with his band The Lightning Bolts.
Holt is also well known for his television and radio series. He is host of public television’s Folkways, a North Carolina program that takes the viewer through the Southern Mountains visiting traditional craftsmen and musicians. He served as host of The Nashville Network’s Fire on the Mountain, Celebration Express and American Music Shop. He has been a frequent guest on Hee Haw, Nashville Now and The Grand Ole Opry. He can also be seen as a musician in the popular film O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
Guitarist Richard Watson, Doc’s grandson (Merle’s son) learned some blues runs from his dad, and Doc’s tutored him for more than a decade. In 1999, Doc and Richard released an album together called Third Generation Blues.
This concert is the first in PineCone’s 2010-2011 Down Home Concert Series at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Raleigh’s premier performing arts center. The show starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12. Tickets are available through PineCone’s box office (919-664-8302) or online at http://www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Progress Energy Center. We hope you’ll join us for this special night featuring some of North Carolina’s own finest traditional musicians!
The series resumes on Friday, Jan. 7 with a special duo performance by Tim O’Brien and Bryan Sutton, and IBMA’s 2010 Entertainers of the Year Dailey & Vincent return to Raleigh on Wednesday, Jan. 26. Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro makes a repeat performance on the PineCone stage on Saturday, Feb. 12, and the Sam Bush Band performs five days later with special guests Bearfoot (Thursday, Feb. 17). The series concludes on Sunday, March 13 with The Chieftains, which PineCone presents with Broadway Series South. Complete information about the 2010-2011 Down Home Concert Series is available at http://www.pinecone.org.
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PineCone—the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, is a private, nonprofit, charitable membership organization dedicated to preserving, presenting and promoting traditional music, dance and other folk performing arts.