Jack Lawrence was a long-time picking partner with Doc Watson, and Patrick Crouch is a notable regional musician who plays in many area bands and his own, Strictly Clean and Decent, which performed at the Doc Watson Day Celebration two years ago. Lawrence started playing shows with Doc Watson after Merle Watson died in a tractor accident, and he became a staple musician at concerts and on recording projects.
The eighth annual Doc Watson Day Celebration takes place at the Jones House Friday, June 15, starting at 4:00 p.m. with free performances by Brooks Forsyth, Presley Barker, Charles Welch and John Kirby, Jay Brown, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Crouch, and The Jeff Little Trio.
In 2011, Mayor Loretta Clawson declared the third Friday in June as Doc Watson Day, and the downtown statue of Watson picking his guitar on a bench was unveiled. Watson attended and gave one of his final performances in Boone, passing away the following spring. The Town of Boone has continued the Doc Watson Day Celebration each year since, which has featured performances by the Kruger Brothers, Buck Stops Here, the Honey Chasers, the Sheets Family, and many others, including most of this year’s performers. This will be Jay Brown’s first time participating in the Doc Watson Day Celebration, but he is a longtime veteran of the Jones House concerts as a solo artist and with his band, The Lazybirds.
“We are really excited to have Jay join the Doc Watson Day Celebration this year,” says concert organizer, Mark Freed. “Doc was a fan of Jay and the Lazybirds, and I know Doc and his music have meant a lot to Jay.”
The Jeff Little Trio features Little on keyboard, Steve Lewis on guitar and banjo, and Josh Scott on bass. Little grew up in Boone hanging out at his father’s music store, where lots of local pickers would gather, including Doc Watson. Little developed a distinctive two-handed style, much influenced by the mountain flat-picked guitar tradition with speed, precision, and clarity. A professional musician since the age of 14, Little is conversant with traditional old-time country, bluegrass, Rockabilly, and blues. After years in Nashville working as a session musician, Little returned to the Blue Ridge, and today he is the Director of Entertainment Technology Program at Northeast State in Bristol, TN. Lewis is an award-winning guitar and banjo champion and music teacher, who lives in Ashe County. Lewis has created a legacy in northwest North Carolina not only for bringing home hundreds of his own blue ribbons for guitar and banjo picking, but for his many students who have gone on to have successful music endeavors. Scott is an upright bass master from Ashe County, who has been featured on stage and in the studio with many critically acclaimed artists of acoustic and Americana music.
Presley Barker is one of the hottest young guitarists in bluegrass music, locally, regionally, and beyond. Barker grew up in Wilkes County, and he was a student of Steve Lewis and another Doc Watson disciple.
“Presley is a very exciting player, whatever his age,” Freed says. “He will be taking this music to the next level, just like Doc did for his generation.”
The celebration will begin at 4:00 p.m. Friday with Brooks Forsyth, followed by Presley Barker, then Charles Welch and John Kirby. Welch, a longtime friend and performing partner with Doc Watson, grew up in the area and was school friends with Doc’s son, Merle Watson.
Freed says, “Charles always has great stories to share about traveling with Doc and Merle as a young man or performing with Doc during the last couple decades of his career.”
Jay Brown will follow Welch and Kirby, then Lawrence and Crouch. The Jeff Little Trio will conclude the concert, which will end between 7:30-8:00 p.m.
The Doc Watson Day Celebration and the weekly Friday Summer Concerts at the Jones House are free. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own chair or blanket to sit under the giant maple trees in the front lawn of the community center. For the Doc Watson Day Celebration, the Jones House will also have extra seats set up for the first dozen rows that are open to all.
Performances take place rain or shine. In extreme inclement weather, the concerts are moved inside the Jones House to the Mazie Jones Gallery, which can seat the first 40 patrons on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The 2018 Summer Concerts at the Jones House are produced by The Town of Boone’s Cultural Resources Department and sponsored by the Downtown Boone Development Association, Mast General Store, M-Prints, Burton Moomaw Acupuncture, Rosemary Horowitz and Jerry Hyman, Melanie’s Food Fantasy, and Stick Boy Bread Company. For more information about the series, including a complete schedule of performances, please visit www.joneshouse.org or call 828.268.6280.