The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country is proud to collaborate with the Town of Boone to observe Doc Watson Day on Friday, August 19, 2022. This event is an annual celebration honoring the life and legacy of its namesake, Doc Watson. Due to the generous support of First Horizon, the App Theatre will host a live performance by Grammy Award-winner Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper at 7:30 p.m. at the historic venue in downtown Boone, NC. Tickets are only $25.
A fiddle virtuoso from an early age, Michael Cleveland is a 12-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) “Fiddle Player of the Year” and a 2020 Grammy Award winner, among a litany of other accomplishments. Having played alongside some of the industry’s greats and performed at the most famous of venues, Cleveland now tours with his own band, leaving audiences with jaws dropped in amazement. This performance will mark Cleveland’s debut performance at the Appalachian Theatre.
Vince Gill described Cleveland as follows: “Michael plays fearless, and it’s intoxicating to play with him because he makes you play fearless. He takes no prisoners, but he plays with restraint and a soul. He plays without abandon. It’s wicked to see how much music he pulls out of a bow. He’s untouchable.”
First Horizon Market President Jason Triplett quipped, “There is no better location to celebrate Doc Watson Day than on the Doc Watson Stage at the Appalachian Theatre, and Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper are the ideal artists for this event. If you take a closer look at his statue sitting across King Street from the theatre, I guarantee you’ll see Doc smiling a little more broadly.”
Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson was born in 1923 in nearby Deep Gap in eastern Watauga County. Though he lost his sight at the age of two, Watson showed an interest in music early on and worked hard to purchase his first guitar as a boy. He spent much of his early career playing on the streets in downtown Boone, and in the 1960s, Watson started performing around the country.
Renowned for his innovative flat-picking style on the guitar, Watson pioneered a technique that mimics the sound of fast-paced mountain fiddle tunes. Over a long and illustrious career, he earned eight Grammy awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, and was honored with the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1997.
Despite these incredible achievements, Watson always referred to himself as “just one of the people.” Accordingly, when a statue of his likeness was commissioned to be designed by local sculptor Alexander Hallmark, Watson insisted that these same five trademark words be inscribed on a plaque next to the statue.
This bronze figure of Watson sitting on a bench picking a guitar it located at the corner of King and Depot Streets in downtown Boone and was unveiled during a public ceremony, on June 17, 2011.
Mark Freed, Cultural Resources Director for the Town of Boone, said, “Doc Watson Day has become a signature event in our Summer Concerts at the Jones House series. We have been celebrating Doc Watson Day for more than a decade now, and we are very excited to continue our collaboration with the Appalachian Theatre.”
Now in its 12th year, Doc Watson Day has traditionally been held in June, but was shifted to August to accommodate the availability of more musicians who knew Doc and who are inspired by his music. Last year, the Appalachian Theatre took part in Doc Watson Day for the first time, hosting a livestreamed concert from the historic venue, featuring local bluegrass favorites, The Burnett Sisters Band and Liam Purcell & Cane Mill Road.
On August 19, 2022, live music begins at 5 p.m. with a free concert on the lawn at the Jones House as a part of the Town’s weekly Summer Concert series. Performers include Wayne Henderson, Nobody’s Business, and Surefire. The evening’s celebration concludes at the App Theatre with a ticketed 7:30 p.m. concert by Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper.
Doc Watson Day is hosted by the Town of Boone in partnership with the Appalachian Theatre. For more information about artists performing at the Jones House, visit www.joneshouse.org or call 828-268-6280. For tickets to Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper and more information about the concert, or to join the theatre’s eblast list and purchase memberships, please visit the ATHC website at www.apptheatre.org.
Courtesy of The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country.