The ninth annual Doc Watson Day Celebration takes place at the Jones House Friday, June 21, starting at 4:00 p.m., featuring performances by Brooks Forsyth, Charles Welch, the Burnett Sisters, 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, having hosted a number of performers including The Kruger Brothers, Buck Stops Here, the Honey Chasers, The Sheets Family, Jay Brown, and many others, including most of this year’s performers.
Friday’s concert will feature the first Doc Watson Day performance by The Burnett Sisters. The Burnett Sisters include sisters Kathleen, Anissa, Sophia, and Anni. All four of the sisters are current or previous participants in the Boone Junior Appalachian Musicians, a music lessons program that takes place at the Jones House.
“We are really excited to have the Burnett Sisters come home to the Jones House to take part in this year’s festivities,” says concert organizer, Mark Freed. “Kathleen and Anissa are now off at the ETSU bluegrass program and doing wonderful things.”
Kathleen and Anissa were also part of the popular local string band Strictly Strings. Sophia and Anni are part of another youthful local string band, Tater Hill Mashers.
Brooks Forsyth grew up around Boone, and he has played at the Jones House with a number of bands and as a solo performer over the years. He released his newest album this spring, and he has been touring in support of the project. Forsyth will also be at the Jones House on Thursday night, June 20, to lead a Doc Watson-themed jam session from 5:30-7:30. The jam session is free and open to participants and listeners alike.
Friday’s Doc Watson Day celebration concert will begin at 4:00 p.m. with Brooks Forsyth, followed by The Burnett Sisters, then Charles Welch.
Welch is a longtime friend and performing partner with Doc Watson. He 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.”
Jack Lawrence was another long-time picking partner with Doc Watson, and he will follow Welch with a performance with his good friend and picking partner, Patrick Crouch. Crouch is a notable regional musician who plays in many area bands and his own Strictly Clean and Decent. 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 Jeff Little Trio will conclude the concert, featuring 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.
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 2019 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.