his family. By the end of 1962, he was appearing at the noted Greenwich Village club, Gerde’s Folk City. A year later, he was presented in a double bill with Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys at New York’s Town Hall. Watson’s successful appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963 earned him a record deal with Vanguard, where he recorded a series of highly popular albums during the 1960s.
In 1964, Doc was joined on his records by his 15-year- old son, Merle. Born Eddy Merle Watson, Doc’s only son was named for Eddy Arnold, the Tennessee Plowboy, and one of Doc’s idols, the legendary Merle Travis. Merle Watson proved to be an accomplished guitarist, a quick learner, and his father’s accompanist, road manager, and chauffeur. He also added the slide guitar to his musical arsenal, becoming proficient in many styles, from Hawaiian to bluegrass to Western swing.
Doc Watson’s recordings and concert appearances encompass an astounding diversity of music history and styles. From ancient fiddle tunes translated to his crisp flatpicking guitar (“Double File & Salt Creek”) to rousing blues (“You Don’t Know My Mind”), Jimmie Rodgers tunes (“In the Jailhouse Now”), and Gershwin (“Summertime”), there seemed to be no kind of American music Doc Watson couldn’t play. His voice: warm, rich, and expressive was capable of exquisite emotion, especially on Jimmie Rodgers ballads such as “Miss the Mississippi and You” and “Treasures Untold.”
Doc & Merle Watson
Photo courtesy of Doc Watson