By Jesse Wood
Update: Almost there! The Kickstarter campaign for ‘Doc Watson Family Milestones’ is almost complete, but it isn’t over yet. As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., less than $4,000 is needed for the campaign to be complete, to be successful. So far, more than 420 people have pledged nearly $70,000. Read below for more information.
Feb. 15, 2013. Only five days are left to make a Kickstarter pledge towards the Doc Watson Family Milestones Project – a collection of 94 rare, “living-room” recordings and more than 500 historical photographs of the Watson Family.
So far more than half of the $72,000 goal has been met. If the decade-long project by Doc’s daughter Nancy Watson doesn’t reach the total goal, then none of the funds will be allowed for use due to Kickstarter rules.
‘Doc Watson Family Milestones’ features stories, songs and photographs captured from 1953 to 2006 – a vast majority of which have never been released.
Nancy Watson started the project in 1999, though it began as a book – not a four-disc box set with photo collages.
“After writing a few chapters, I realized people needed to hear the music, the voices and the interaction of what it was like growing up in the family,” Nancy said, adding that she then began tracking down reel-to-reels, cassette tapes and old photos from relatives and that she was seeking that “living-room” feel.
The chronological collection – culled from footage that was transferred to fill 64 CDs – includes recordings of Nancy’s grandmother on Rosa Lee’s side churning butter and singing; Nancy’s brother Merle Watson interviewing Doc about the Folk Revival; Doc talking about encountering the 1940 flood, which happened when he was a teenager; Doc playing the electric guitar with rockabilly pianist Jack Williams; songs written by Doc Watson that were never before published; acapella hymns sung by Doc with his brothers and sisters.
“My daddy’s exact words were it was an ‘adventure,'” Nancy said. “It was wonderful when I would discover things I thought were lost forever or never knew was recorded. I was so excited. It was like getting to live my life over again.”
It’s been a tough time for Nancy. Both Rosa Lee and Doc passed away last year. And when viewing or listening to the archives since their passing, Nancy says she becomes both sad and happy.
“It does make me sad, but it does make me happy that I put it together. It makes me real happy. It makes me happy to know that momma and daddy got to hear it.”
The reason for the Kickstarter campaign is affordability – for both the creators of the project and the consumers. Nancy wanted to keep creative control of the project and record labels wouldn’t allow her to do that if they were to fund the project. So in keeping with the spirit of independence, free from outside influence, Nancy embarked on this project, hoping to fund it through Kickstarter.
The campaign is to fund the production of 5,000 copies, which would make the four-disc set affordable. It will be audio-mastered by GRAMMY Award-winning engineer Bill Wolf.
For those who support the Kickstarter campaign, another treasure trove exists. Backers have the chance to earn mementos of Doc with certain dollar pledges.
- Doc’s Ball Cap,
- Doc’s Guitar Strings,
- Doc’s Finger Pick,
- Doc’s Flat Pick,
- Doc’s Capo,
- Doc’s Pocket Knife,
- Doc and Merle Out of Print CD,
- Doc and Chet Out of Print CD,
- Doc’s Silver Belt Buckle,
- Doc’s Shirt and Photo
- Hand Stitched Quilt,
- Doc’s Lap Steel Guitar
- Doc’s Hammered Dulcimer
- Hand Woven Rug
- Doc’s Cigar Box Slide Guitar
- Doc’s Harmonica
- Doc’s Braille Hymnal