North Carolina Icons: Doc Watson

NC IconsThis week we revive our NC Icons series with a look at Doc Watson, number 51 on Our State magazine’s 100 North Carolina Icons list. The Deep Gap, North Carolina native and Grammy award winning singer/songwriter left a lasting legacy on traditional American music, revered for his influence on bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and gospel music. Our State advises readers, “At least once, make a visit to MerleFest, the four-day music festival in Wilkesboro started by Doc more than 25 years ago in the memory of his son, Merle.” This year’s festival will be held April 25-28. Check out The State Library of North Carolina for more resources on Doc Watson, his music, and MerleFest.

With the recent warm weather in mind,  here’s a video of Doc and Merle together performing their rendition of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.”

Before making your trip to MerleFest this month, we recommend you pick up Fred C. Fussell’s newly published Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina: A Guide to Music Sites, Artists, and Traditions of the Mountains and Foothills.

Fred C. Fussell's Blue Ridge Music Trails of North CarolinaThe music and dance traditions of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains are legendary. Residents continue a musical heritage that stretches back many generations. In this lively guidebook, noted folklorist Fred C. Fussell puts readers on the trail to discover the many sites in western North Carolina where this unique musical legacy thrives. Organized by region and county, Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina welcomes readers into the rich worlds of bluegrass, old-time, gospel, and string band music, as well as clogging, flatfooting, and other forms of traditional dance.

The book, a project of the North Carolina Arts Council and its partner, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, features a CD with more than 20 songs by musicians profiled in the book, historic recordings of the region’s most influential musicians spanning nine decades—available for the first time here—and songs based on true stories of love, crime, and tragedy set in the North Carolina mountains.

Keep an eye out for more from our NC Icons series in the coming weeks.