Doc & Merle Watson

Doc & Merle Watson

Home Sweet Home

Sugar Hill

On July 30th, 1967, a 15 year old Merle Watson approached his mother with a big grin and said “Mama, if you and Daddy would get me a banjo for Christmas, I would learn to play it.” The next day his father and mother traveled to nearby Boone, NC and bought the boy an Earl Scruggs model Vega. That very night, his mother called him and said “Merle, if you knew we had your Christmas present, would you like to have it now, or would you rather wait until Christmas?” Merle chuckled and replied “I would like to have it now, if you want to give it to me, or I can wait until Christmas.” His mother gave it to him that night. By the end of that same year, this recording of Doc and Merle, in its raw form, was made.

Doc and Merle’s longtime bass player, T. Michael Coleman, came across this tape labeled ‘Merle, banjo, 5 months’. As he listened, he was thinking how great it would’ve been to have been there in 1967 playing along. His next thought was, “why not complete this project using musicians who were influenced by these masters?”

Coleman approached Doc with the idea of adding musicians to complete the recording. Doc agreed, and immediately made it clear who he wanted to use to fill out the band. It would be Sam Bush on fiddle, because he reminded Doc so much of his late father-in-law’s playing. Marty Stuart on mandolin, because Marty really understands the music, Coleman on bass, for obvious reasons, and Alan O’Bryant on harmony vocal because the blend was more than musical.

With a little computer magic and a lot of listening and planning, picking space was made available to all. Most of these songs are traditional songs that Doc and Merle arranged never to be recorded again. Merle contributes an original with his “Russian Grass.” Strong covers of A.P. Carter’s “I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home?” and Flatt and Scruggs’ “Down the Road” round out this collection of timeless Appalachian Folk music. This is truly a labor of love, and a very creative way to arrange a reunion with a dear friend long past.

Sugar Hill Records, P.O. Box 55300, Durham, NC 27717-5300; http://www.sugarhillrecords.com/

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