This Week in the American Department

Sunday, June 3, WKCR will honor Doc Watson from 8a.m. to 2p.m. This distinguished guitarist died this past Tuesday May 29, at the age of 89. Join the American department for 6 hours this Sunday to celebrate Doc Watson’s virtuosic contributions to gospel, bluegrass, folk, and country music.

Born in Deep Gap, North Carolina in 1923, Watson took an interest in playing the guitar at an early age. He began to play in the street, emulating the Delmore Brothers, Louvin Brothers, and Monroe Brothers. When he was 30, he became the electric guitarist in the Johnson City, Tennessee-based Jack Williams' country and western swing band. Coping with the band’s lack of a fiddle player, Watson learned traditional fiddle tunes on his guitar, beginning to develop a characteristic technique. He later focused on the art of flatpicking and made a name for himself as a mountain musician with notable guitar expertise. In 1960, Watson entered the American folk music revival scene. His performances at the P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village in 1961 and the Newport Folk Festival in 1963 gained him an audience and by 1964, he had released a solo album.

Watson went on to perform for years with his son Merle and later with his grandson, Richard. He also joined Earl and Randy Scruggs on a song in the 1990s. He has inspired many contemporary musicians in the worlds of gospel, bluegrass, folk, and country. Be sure to tune in this Sunday at 8a.m. to hear 6 hours of the renowned flatpicker and baritone, Doc Watson.