Mathis Haug and Benoit Nogaret are a pair of French guitarists with a special passion for American roots music. The two met along the French Mediterranean two decades ago, and discovered that they shared a love of Appalachian folk, old time, and bluegrass music.
Over the years they got together as often as they could. Benoit worked as a postman, and spent his off time building his guitar chops, while Mathis toured as a singer with his own groups, and others from France and Morroco. When first jamming as a duo, they were initially focusing on acoustic blues and rock, but once they learned that they both were crazy for bluegrass, that became their primary interest. Haug took lessons online from Chris Eldridge of Punch Brothers, and began a serious study of fiddle tunes on the guitar.
At one point the two friends noticed how many of their favorite songs and tunes had appeared on Doc Watson’s recordings, which led them to work on his arrangements of them. Speaking for both of them, Mathis says that this music is largely unknown to music lovers in their native land, something they would like to remedy.
“Pick a song at random from the immense repertoire of traditional American music, and you’re likely to hear a version of Doc’s. It was an obvious choice for us to revisit his songs, the pleasure of playing a familiar music, to open a dialogue with other musicians in the times of the internet and to make this legend known to a new generation.”
So he and Benoit have recorded an EP of Doc Watson classics, live with a single microphone, leading to the imminent release of Here’s To You Mr. Watson, with their two guitars and vocal treatments of six Watson favorites.
They captured the sessions on video as well, and have agreed to share this take of Little Sadie, many grassers’s most cherished of Doc’s, later immortalized by Tony Rice on his landmark Manzanita album.
Here’s To You Mr. Watson is set for release on April 30, but Little Sadie is available now as a single from the popular download and streaming sites. Look for the full album there as well on the 30th.