Without Doc and Rosa Lee Watson, Merlefest marches on | Music
INDY Week's music blog

Archives | RSS

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Without Doc and Rosa Lee Watson, Merlefest marches on

Posted by on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Chatham County Line gathers round
  • Photo by Bob Alexander/Courtesy of Merlefest
  • Chatham County Line gathers 'round

The 26th annual MerleFest returned to the campus of Wilkes Community College last weekend. One major figure was missing, of course: This year's Merlefest somberly marked the first without the festival's patriarch, Doc Watson, who passed away in May 2012.

Many asked if, after the passing of Watson, his beloved gathering in western North Carolina would change. “This year we thought it was important to celebrate the life and music of our dear friend Doc Watson,” answered Ted Hagaman, director of the festival. “For the past 25 years, he has been the artistic center of MerleFest, so everyone—musicians and fans—came together as a family to pay special tribute to the man and the musician who meant so much to us all.”

Indeed, throughout the weekend, Watson's name rang out from both those on the stage and in front of it. And while many remembered Watson with a somber tone, others celebrated having seen him at all. They were thankful for the memories.

Elsewhere on the festival grounds, things carried on just as Watson might have wanted. The grounds teemed with life on Saturday; despite a forecast of rain, the crowds came to 14 stages, each providing opportunities to enjoy "traditional-plus" music, a phrase coined by Watson himself. Indeed, bluegrass, old-time, rock ’n’ roll, Western swing, blues, pop and Americana found the spotlight among the 90 groups participating. Some of the acts made some (namely, me) scratch their head about the festival’s direction, but MerleFest provides a wide umbrella of music that has caused attendance to steadily grow since 1988.

While Doc and his wife, Rosa Lee, both passed away in the past year, their seats on the side of the Watson stage remained reserved. They gave so much to entertaining throughout their lives; that gesture was a humble reminder of their influence and legacy.

Below are a few video clips from the festival: Chatham County Line pays tribute to Doc Watson, while The South Carolina Broadcasters pay tribute to George Jones, who passed away the day before. Meanwhile, Kickin' Grass performed on the Americana stage.

Chatham County Line, “Train That Carried My Girl From Town”

South Carolina Broadcasters, “I'll Have A New Body (I'll Have A New Life)”

Kickin Grass, “Sparrow”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music

Twitter Activity


I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Revive is my people. If folks were offended by this, I can assure you it wasn't intentional. Revive Music was …

by Matthew Allen on Art of Cool Festival, Night One: Revive Big Band's Music-History Concert Leaves Out Women to an Absurd Degree (Music)

Small crowds like the one in Utrecht The Netherlands where I was with my 7 year young daughter may be …

by George Hendriks on The blues of Randall Bramblett's career-long cult status—and the promise of his new Devil Music (Music)

Wow! I am speechless. Skylar that was amazing! You are very talented. I love your vocal range and passion. Thank …

by Rita Romaine Rakestraw on Video Premiere: Phil Cook and Skylar Gudasz Nod to Alice Gerrard in New Tribute Clips (Music)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation