Signup for a folk alley account

Memories of Doc

May 30, 2012

When I received a knock on the door in Studio B from our news director Schultze, I knew something was wrong. She asked me if I knew that Doc Watson had passed. I did not know and the news caused decades of memories to suddenly flow over me as I let the news sink in. I had heard of the recent fall and his surgery in the hospital in Winston Salem. I was aware he was fragile. But to me, Doc was larger than life and he seemed immortal. This couldn't be true.

I was at MerleFest at the end of April and I'm kicking myself now that I never actually saw Doc. I had seen him many times before and there were 15 stages to visit and usually there was a crowd around him. I did get to hear him during the local broadcast of the festival and he sounded weak. Fans told me that he got very emotional during the annual dedication to his son, Merle (the festival's namesake), and a big screen video allowed the whole audience to see Doc crying. The crowd began to understand that they were perhaps seeing him for the last time. Doc passed away Tuesday, May 28 at 89.

In the mid '70s, I attended my first ever bluegrass festival in Martinsville, Virginia. I remember the long drive and the anticipation of seeing Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, Ralph Stanley and Doc Watson. When we arrived, we learned that all the headliners canceled because they were afraid they weren't going to be paid probably. There was one exception.

Doc Watson showed up and played extra sets. Just a few years earlier, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" had been released. This landmark double album featured the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, at the peak of their popularity, joined by traditional country music legends. My friends and I wandered into folk and bluegrass through the backdoor after playing rock and roll because of this album. From this landmark collection, we discovered Mother Maybelle Carter, Merle Travis, Jimmy Martin and Earl Scruggs. However, the star of the album was clearly Doc Watson - and there he was right in front of me, when (for whatever reason) everybody else decided not to play. I will never ever forget that.

A few years later, I began hosting radio programs on WKSU in Northeast Ohio and I remember the thrill of playing Doc Watson records. It still thrills me. It probably always will. In 2004, Doc and his grandson, Richard, played a show with David Holt at The Kent State Folk Festival. There was a moment backstage when only two people were in the room. Those two people were Doc Watson and me. I was not about to let this moment slip by and I walked up to him and introduced myself. I remember saying, "Doc, I've been lucky to have hosted radio programs for 25 years and you have always been a big part of those broadcasts." He responded, "Thank you son. You should know that I appreciate what you do, too." I will have that memory forever.

Jim Blum

Posted by Jim Blum at May 30, 2012 1:36 PM

Support Folk Alley During Our Spring Fund Drive!


Recent Topics

Hear It First - The Honeycutters, 'Me Oh My'
A Q & A with James McMurtry
Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #150402
Video Premiere: Sam Lewis, "3/4 Time"
A Q & A with Pokey LaFarge
Video Premiere: The Weepies, 'No Trouble'
Album Review: Lord Huron, 'Strange Trails'
Album Review: Laura Marling, 'Short Movie'
Important information about your Folk Alley account
Album Review: Brandi Carlile, 'The Firewatcher's Daughter'
A Q & A with Martin Sexton
Win Tickets To See Shakey Graves at the Beachland Ballroom
Hear It First - The Pine Hill Project, 'Tomorrow You're Going'
Album Review: The Decemberists, 'What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World'
PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #150305
Hear It First - Pharis & Jason Romero, 'A Wanderer I'll Stay'
Folk Alley Presents 'Heaven Adores You' at the Cleveland International Film Festival
Video Premiere: Joel Rafael, "Thanks for the Smiles"
PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #150226
Album Review: Robert Earl Keen, Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions
PLAYLIST: Folk Alley nationally syndicated radio show #150219
Song Premiere: Joe Pug, "The Measure"
Album Review: The Bros. Landreth, 'Let It Lie'
A Q & A with Nora Jane Struthers
Album Review: Andrew Combs, 'All These Dreams'
A Q & A with Rhiannon Giddens
Album Review: Caroline Spence, 'Somehow'
Hear It First - Elana James, 'Black Beauty'
PLAYLIST - Folk Alley nationally syndicated weekly radio show #150212
It Takes Two - Ten Classic Duets for Valentine's Day



April 2015
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
         1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30      

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

December 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010

July 2010

May 2010

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

January 2010

December 2009

November 2009

October 2009

September 2009

August 2009

July 2009

June 2009

May 2009

April 2009

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008

August 2008

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008

March 2008

February 2008

January 2008

December 2007

November 2007

October 2007

September 2007

August 2007

July 2007

June 2007

May 2007

April 2007

March 2007

February 2007

January 2007

December 2006

November 2006

October 2006

September 2006

August 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

December 2005

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

January 2005

December 2004

November 2004

October 2004

September 2004

August 2004

July 2004

June 2004

May 2004

April 2004

March 2004

February 2004

January 2004

December 2003

November 2003

October 2003

September 2003

August 2003