Fred Robbins, one of bluegrass music’s most diligent archivists, has assembled five stage recordings from Doc Watson on his web site. These are all contributions from Ken Landreth, captured between 1969 and ’71.
Younger festival goers may not know that during the 1960s in particular, it was quite common to see what we now call “taping” going on at live folk and bluegrass music events. Artists were much freer about the practice, for a number of reasons. This was during the beginning of the Hi-Fi craze, and high fidelity recording gear was not in widespread use. Perhaps most importantly from the performer’s perspective, there was no consumer grade duplication equipment available to make the sort of digital file-sharing that is common now a concern for artists.
You could attend a festival back then and see additional microphones taped to the central microphone stand, or someone holding up a mic at the front of the stage – as you can see in the image above that Fred took of Doc and Merle Watson in 1971.
Here’s a listen to one of Landreth’s recordings, Bill Monroe and Doc Watson together at Bean Blossom in 1969.
Bill and Doc: [http://frobbi.org/audio/landreth/BeanBlossom1969/WatsonMonroe062169.mp3]
Hear the rest at Fred’s site.