Doc Watson

“We’ve got microphones of all kinds here, this ’un must be the tape recorder mike,” Doc Watson said in his soft Appalachian drawl at Gerdes Folk City in the fall of 1962. His casualness even then belied his sophisticated flatpicking that has influenced every acoustic guitarist since, and his gentle, understated vocal style was perfect for this timeless music, featuring tunes he grew up with: a cappella (“Lone Pilgrim,” on which his voice truly shone), blues (“St. Louis Blues”), laments (“The Old Wooden Rocker,” “The Dream of the Miner’s Child”), dazzling instrumentals (“Blue Smoke,” “Cannonball Rag”), silly songs (“Sing Song Kitty”), Childe ballads (“The House Carpenter”) and mountain songs of doomed romance (“Little Sadie,” “Tragic Romance,” “The Wagoner’s Lad”). Watson is an American institution, always heard best in approximations of the porch back home. This re-release captures that.