Doc Watson Brings ‘Hills of Home’ to Center for the Arts

Posted: October 9, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Described by The New York Times as a “Mountain-music patriarch … Appalachian music master,” legendary folk musician Doc Watson is a recipient of six GRAMMY Awards, a National Medal of the Arts, a national Heritage Fellowship, and the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award.

Watson, along with grandson Richard Watson and longtime collaborator, GRAMMY-winning banjoist David Holt, will perform at Mason’s Center for the Arts on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. In this program, which he calls “Hills of Home,” Watson showcases his universally acknowledged genius and mastery of flat-picking guitar.

A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, will begin at 7:15 p.m. on the Concert Hall’s Grand Tier III.

Guitar was predominantly a rhythm instrument at the turn of the 20th century. While many folk and rock ‘n roll musicians helped bolster the guitar’s popularity, Doc Watson had the most profound influence on the way the acoustic flat top guitar is played as a lead instrument in folk, old-time and bluegrass music.

Watson blends his traditional Appalachian musical roots with bluegrass, country, gospel, and blues to create a unique style and an expansive repertoire. “We cover the gamut of mountain musical traditions from old-time to bluegrass, from ballads to blues,” says Holt, a folk musician from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Fans not only enjoy Watson’s guitar playing, but also his smooth baritone voice, sharp wit and intellect, good nature, country charm and wonderful storytelling ability. Watson’s admirers say that no matter how big the concert hall, he always makes you feel as if you are sitting with him in your own living room.

Doc Watson was born in Deep Gap in the mountains of North Carolina, into a family and a region rich in musical tradition. His mother, Annie Watson, sang traditional secular and religious songs and his father, General Watson, played the banjo, which he taught to his son.

In 1953, Watson began playing gigs for money with Jack Williams’s rockabilly/swing band. In 1960, he was invited to record for the first time, and he was subsequently invited to play concerts in New York and at the Newport Jazz Festival.

A series of remarkable recordings, including collaborations with Flatt and Scruggs, Chet Atkins, Ricky Skaggs, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band helped make Watson the gold standard among traditional pickers. Watson performed for many years with his son Merle, who died in a tractor accident in 1985. Since Merle’s death, Watson often performs with Merle’s son, Richard.

Watson and Holt have known each other for more than 35 years and have recorded several CDs together, including the three-volume CD, “Legacy,” which won the GRAMMY Award for Best Traditional Folk Recording of 2002.

Tickets are $40, $32 and $20; tickets for children 12 and under are half price. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit tickets.com.

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