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Doc Watson, the true master

Posted by Bob Buckingham on Friday, May 25, 2012

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Thinking of Doc Watson and what his life has meant to me.  He has always been an example of what to be in this life.  In the way he lived, the way he played and in all of his dealings  he was a straight shooter.  He made the old new and brought many to the fold of the old.  He played old time music in a new way, played bluegrass in his own way, and was a master of the blues.  He is human so he is not perfect, but I learned more about playing guitar, banjo and fiddle from him than perhaps any one other individual.  He was THE master in my eyes.  He knew how to play the lead without clutter and his backup was tasteful and zingy.  His singing was always sincere and direct and he had no problem sharing the spotlight.

As he lays in the hospital today recovering from surgery, I wish for him only the best possible outcome, whatever that may be.  If I could I would thank him for all of the great music he made and for being himself.

I was stunned in the 60's when I first saw him play to find out for sure he was blind.  Information was harder to come by then and not always accurate.  I had an album and had heard him play, but when I saw him, I was stunned by his mastery.

We all have some sort of handicap.  It is our job to get past it and do the best we can.  Arthel Watson was a great role model for a kid just getting his feet wet back then.  He is still one today for that kid who has played for nearly 1/2 century himself.  I don't know what tomorrow holds, but Doc will be a class act as he faces the day.  Godspeed and may The Force be with you.



4 comments on “Doc Watson, the true master”

dbrooks Says:
Friday, May 25, 2012 @2:55:30 PM

Nice tribute, Bob. You say the basic truths that so many of us -- from amateur to professional -- have said over the years. There's certainly been a lot said about the influence of giants such as Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Pete Seeger, etc., and Doc Watson's influence has been as great and perhaps included many more styles or genres of music and types of insteumenrs, as you say.

pernicketylad Says:
Thursday, May 31, 2012 @8:45:17 AM

Nicely put Bob. My wife and I went on our honeymoon, quite deliberately, to what we considered "Watson Country" in 2005. While we were there by design, getting to meet him was something we hadn't dared dream of. We literally crossed paths in Lexington Virginia. By complete chance Doc was playing there as we were passing through. The venue was the Lime Kiln Theatre.....beautiful. Anyway I was buying a few CDs off Jack Lawrence at the break and he kindly offered to introduce both myself and my wife to Doc after the show. I don't go in for hero worship at all but on this occasion my wife recognised that words were failing me and expertly interrupted me by thanking Doc for making or honeymoon so memorable. I shuffled off mesmerised. I think I was as in awe of the man as I was of the musician because we had been listening to the Legacy interviews with David Holt in the car. I think I know most of those interviews off by heart.
I'm 37 now but I first heard Doc when I was about 16 and it was the fact that he was singing one of my grandfather's favourites (My Grandfather's Clock) that caught my attention at that time. It was another 16 years before listening to Doc and Clarence Ashley set in motion a chain of events that eventually led my to picking up a 5 string banjo for the first time.......I'm sure Doc has had an impact on many, many people in that way.

Keith Madison Says:
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 @4:27:02 PM

well said..

banjoy Says:
Wednesday, July 11, 2012 @6:16:31 AM

What a heartfelt post. Doc was ... IS one of my all around musical heroes. I sure love the man for what he did, and how he did it. He just reached right out and tapped me at a very deep level. I thank him for that.

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