When Doc Watson passed away in May 2012, the world of traditional music lost one of its most beloved figures. Doc had quite a prolific career, recording albums both as a solo artist and with his son Merle, as well as many collaborations with such renowned artists as Earl Scruggs, Del McCoury, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, David Grisman, and Ricky Skaggs.
One of his biggest sources of inspiration throughout his life was his family, and it is this source which has provided material for a new compilation of previously unreleased performances. Doc Watson Family Milestones, a four-disc CD collection to be released in April 2013, is the result of over ten years of meticulous work by Doc’s daughter Nancy. Nancy has put together, with input from her father before his passing, home recordings, original tunes, live concert performances, and more in order to create a behind-the-scenes look at the life and music of the Watson family.
Doc and Merle are not the only Watsons included in the collection – there are ballads from Doc’s late wife Rosa Lee, work songs from his mother Annie, fiddle tunes from his father-in-law Gaither Carlton, as well as pieces including Doc’s brother Arnold and even Nancy herself. Highlights of the collection include Doc on electric guitar from the 1950s, recordings created by Doc using a multi-track machine to make himself into a “one-man string band,” and family stories including a discussion of how Merle learned to play guitar.
Nancy has also pulled from the family photograph collection to create collages from over 500 photos, helping to share the stories and lives behind the songs.
Doc Watson Family Milestones was produced by Roy Andrade, a former member of the Reeltime Travelers and currently an assistant professor on the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies faculty at East Tennessee State University. We got the chance to speak with Roy about the project this past week, and he shares some of his thoughts in the video below.
The collection is set to be released at MerleFest, which will take place April 25-28. Until then, you can find out more and even preview several of the album’s tracks at the album’s website or help contribute to the project’s Kickstarter fund online.