Doc Watson Celebration Friday
On June 24, 2011, Mayor Loretta Clawson proclaimed the third
Friday in June as Doc Watson Day in the town of Boone.
Included among the clauses in the proclamation is a statement about how “Doc played his music on the streets of downtown Boone.” In Watson’s honor and tradition, the summer Concerts at the Jones House series continues this Friday with the third annual Doc Watson Celebration, featuring performances by The Kruger Brothers, The Sheets Family and Charles Welch.
“The event started when the downtown statue of Doc was unveiled,” said Pilar Fotta, Boone’s cultural resources director. “We were fortunate that Doc was able to come out to share the celebration, play music with his friends and sit next to his bronzed statue.”
Last year’s was a more somber celebration, taking place less than a month after Watson died, but his music continues to live on through the countless musicians he befriended and influenced. The Kruger Brothers, The Sheets Family and Charles Welch are some of them.
The Sheets Family will start the celebration at 5 p.m. at the Jones House, bringing their close mother-daughter, husband-wife harmony singing and old-time string band sounds to the stage.
Randy and Deborah Jean Sheets and their daughter, Kelly Snider, make up The Sheets Family band.
“Their music truly sounds like it is coming from three people who have lived and grown together,” said Mark Freed, Boone’s cultural resources coordinator. “Their music is honest, pure and beautiful.”
The band has strong ties to the traditional music of the region, and their sets frequently feature songs by The Carter Family and The Blue Sky Boys, groups that also inspired Watson. The Sheets Family has also been a long-time collaborator with MerleFest, helping build the dance floors for years and performing at the festival earlier this year.
MerleFest is named for Watson’s late son, Merle, who was a schoolmate with Charles Welch, who will follow The Sheets Family at Friday’s Doc Watson Celebration.
Welch first got to know Watson and his music when traveling with him and Merle to hear them perform. In the years after Merle died, Welch became closer with Watson and began performing with him. The two enjoyed each other’s company both off the stage and on the stage, where they would play finger-picking blues numbers from Mississippi John Hurt.
Welch was sitting beside Watson on the Jones House porch at the statue unveiling celebration two years ago, and he played with The Kruger Brothers last year, sharing some personal stories about his longtime friend.
The Kruger Brothers moved from Switzerland to make a home in Wilkes County in large part because of Watson, and their newest recording pays homage to their late friend and mentor. According to the band’s website, “This recording is a labor of love. Doc was our friend long before he had ever heard of us. His infectious enthusiasm, yet humble approach, to his art made us want to travel the world as musicians.”
The Kruger Brothers, including brothers Uwe and Jens on guitar and banjo, respectively, and bassist Joel Landsberg, have been performing to American audiences since 1997, and they have been staple High Country musicians for nearly a decade. They play music rooted in folk and tradition, performed and arranged with the precision and creativity of modern acoustic masters.
In addition to the performances, there will be several other special features and events happening at the Jones House Friday. Representatives from the new “Milestones” collection, a four-disc project compiled primarily by Watson’s daughter, Nancy Watson, will be on hand, and one of the Jones House galleries is featuring a small exhibit about Watson, including photographs from the inaugural celebration.
The downtown statue of Watson, located at the corner of King and Depot streets, will have the final set of dedicated bricks installed. In addition, Stick Boy Bread Company will be on hand to offer refreshments.
The third annual Doc Watson Celebration is part of the Concerts at the Jones House series, which is produced by the town of Boone and sponsored by the Downtown Boone Development Association, Mast General Store, Footsloggers, MPrints, Stick Boy Bread Company, Melanie’s and Farmer’s Rentals.
The free concerts take place every Friday, starting at 5 p.m., rain or shine. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring their own chair or blanket. For more information, including a complete schedule, visit http://www.joneshousecommunitycenter.org or call (828) 262-4576.