Doc Watson remembered with retrospective concert and CD box set

There is probably no single artist who better represents the folk music of western North Carolina than Doc Watson. The hugely popular guitarist and vocalist from Deep Gap, NC, blind since childhood, had a lengthy career in music that ran from the early 1950s until his passing at 89 in 2012.

He helped bring the flatpicking guitar sound to millions all over the world, and his soulful voice etched the sound of classics like Tennessee Stud and Your Long Journey onto the memories of untold numbers of music lovers. Doc’s participation on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s epic album, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, in 1972, catapulted him to legend status in folk, old time, and bluegrass circles, and he remained a headline performer until a few years before his death.

Next week, a special memorial concert will be held at Lees McRae College in Banner Elk, NC, billed as Doc Watson: Celebrating a Life in Music. The show is sponsored by The John B. Stephenson Center for Appalachia at the college, and there is no charge for admission. Performers will include Doc’s longtime musical partner, guitarist Jack Lawrence, along with Wayne Henderson, Jack Hinshelwood, Trevor McKenzie, and Mike Compton with the ETSU Old-Time Ramblers.

A few days after the November 13 concert, Craft Recordings will release a commemorative 4-CD box set, Doc Watson—Life’s Work: A Retrospective, which pulls together more than a hundred recordings from all stages of his recording career. Among them are studio collaborations with icons like Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Jean Ritchie, Lester Flatt, Chet Atkins, Tony Rice, Norman Blake, Ricky Skaggs, T. Michael Coleman, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Alison Krauss, and Watson’s son, Merle who preceded his father in death.

Also included is an 88 page booklet, with extensive liner notes by ETSU professor Ted Olsen.

The November 13 concert is free to the public, and will be held in the Evans Auditorium of the Lees-McRae Cannon Student Center from 3:30–5:30 p.m. Face coverings are required in all campus buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

Digital copies of Doc Watson—Life’s Work: A Retrospective will be available on November 12, and the CDs on December 1. Pre-orders for the box set are enabled now on line.

A complete track listing follows:

Disc 1

  • The Precious Jewel
  • Pharaoh – The Jack Williams Band with Doc Watson
  • I Saw A Man At The Close Of Day
  • Rambling Hobo
  • Darling Corey
  • Your Long Journey
  • The Cuckoo Bird
  • Everyday Dirt
  • Doc’s Guitar (Tickling The Strings)/Black Mountain Rag
  • Storms Are On The Ocean – Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson
  • What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul – Bill Monroe and Doc Watson
  • And Am I Born To Die
  • My Little Woman, You’re So Sweet
  • Little Orphan Girl
  • Wanted Man
  • Sitting On Top Of The World
  • Intoxicated Rat
  • Country Blues
  • Talk About Suffering
  • Little Omie Wise
  • St. James Hospital
  • Tom Dooley
  • Beaumont Rag – Doc Watson and Merle Watson
  • Muskrat – Doc Watson and Merle Watson
  • Weary Blues – Doc Watson and Merle Watson
  • We Shall All Be Reunited – Doc Watson and Merle Watson

Disc 2

  • Southbound
  • Blue Railroad Train
  • Walk On Boy
  • Sweet Georgia Brown
  • Alberta
  • That Was The Last Thing On My Mind
  • Windy And Warm
  • Riddle Song
  • Georgie
  • Rain Crow Bill
  • Winter’s Night
  • Matty Groves
  • Dill Pickle Rag
  • Willie Moore – Doc Watson and Merle Watson
  • Peach Picking Time In Georgia
  • Memphis Blues
  • The Train That Carried My Girl From Town
  • Lost John – Doc Watson featuring Merle Watson
  • Brown’s Ferry Blues – Doc Watson featuring Merle Watson
  • The Clouds Are Gwine To Roll Away – Doc Watson featuring Merle Watson
  • Life Gits Teejus Don’t It – Doc Watson featuring Merle Watson
  • Banks Of The Ohio – Doc Watson featuring Merle Watson
  • Spikedriver Blues – Doc Watson featuring Merle Watson
  • Deep River Blues – Doc Watson featuring Merle Watson

Disc 3

  • Nothing To It – Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs with Doc Watson
  • Streamlined Cannonball – Earl Scruggs with Doc Watson
  • Tennessee Stud – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Way Downtown – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Freight Train Boogie
  • Summertime
  • Peace In The Valley
  • That’s All – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Match Box Blues – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Bottle Of Wine – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Corrina, Corrina – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Doc’s Rag – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Poor Boy Blues – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Wake Up, Little Maggie       
  • Peartree     
  • Shady Grove           
  • Miss The Mississippi And You          
  • Steel Guitar Rag      
  • Cypress Grove Blues
  • Wayfaring Stranger – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Look Up, Look Down That Lonesome Road – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Minglewood Blues – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Let The Cocaine Be – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Don’t Monkey ‘Round My Widder – Chet Atkins and Doc Watson

Disc 4

  • Red Rocking Chair – Doc & Merle Watson with T. Michael Coleman     
  • John Hurt – Doc & Merle Watson with T. Michael Coleman    
  • Below Freezing – Doc & Merle Watson with T. Michael Coleman 
  • Along The Road – Doc & Merle Watson with T. Michael Coleman  
  • Liza/Lady Be Good – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Going To Chicago Blues – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Guitar Polka – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Bright Sunny South – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Twin Sisters – Doc & Merle Watson
  • How Long Blues – Doc And Merle Watson with James Cotton
  • Freight Train Blues – Doc & Merle Watson
  • Riding That Midnight Train
  • What Does The Deep Sea Say?
  • Tough Luck Man
  • George Gudger’s Overalls
  • Risin’ Sun Blues
  • Salt Creek – Norman Blake and Tony Rice
  • You Must Come In At The Door
  • Your Lone Journey
  • Grandfather’s Clock
  • Bird Dog
  • Turn The Lamps Down Low – Doc & Richard Watson
  • Nights In White Satin – Doc Watson with Frosty Morn
  • Down In The River To Pray – Doc Watson with Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs
  • Amazing Grace

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.