June 21, 2013. On June 24, 2011, Mayor Loretta Clawson proclaimed the third Friday in June in the town of Boone as Doc Watson Day. Included among the clauses in the proclaimation is a statement about how “Doc played his music on the streets of downtown Boone.” In Doc’s honor and tradition, the summer Concerts at the Jones House series continues this Friday with third annual Doc Watson Celebration featuring performances by the Kruger Brothers, the Sheets Family and Charles Welch.
“The event started when the downtown statue of Doc was unveiled,” says Cultural Resources Director Pilar Fotta. “We were fortunate that Doc was able to come out to share the celebration, play music with his friends and sit next to his bronzed statue.”
Last year was a more somber celebration, taking place less than a month after Doc passed away, but Doc’s music continues to live on through the countless musicians he befriended and influenced. The Kruger Brothers, The Sheets Family and Charles Welch were some of those musicians.
The Sheets Family with start the celebration at 5 p.m., bringing their close mother-daughter, husband-wife harmony singing and old-time string band sounds to the stage. Randy and Deborah Jean Sheets and their daughter Kelly Snider make up the Sheets Family Band.
“Their music truly sounds like its coming from three people who have lived and grown together,” said Cultural Resources Coordinator, Mark Freed.
“Their music is honest, pure and beautiful.”
The band has strong ties to the traditional music of the region, and their sets frequently feature songs by The Carter Family and The Blue Sky Boys, groups that also inspired Doc. The Sheets Family have also been long-time collaborators with Merlefest, helping build the dance floors for years and performing at the festival earlier this year.
Merlefest is named for Doc’s son, Merle, who was a schoolmate with Charles Welch, who will follow the Sheets Family at Friday’s Doc Watson Celebration. Charles first got to know Doc and his music traveling with Doc and Merle to gigs to hear Doc, and later Merle, perform. In the years after Merle passed on, Charles became closer with Doc and began performing with him. The two enjoyed each other’s company both off the stage and on the stage, where they would play finger-picking blues numbers from Mississippi John Hurt. Charles was sitting beside Doc on the Jones House porch at the statue unveiling celebration two years ago, and he played with the Kruger Brothers last year, sharing some personal stories about his longtime late friend, Doc.
The Kruger Brothers moved from Switzerland to make a home in Wilkes County in large part because of Doc Watson, and their newest recording pays homage to their late friend and mentor. The band’s website states, “This recording is a labor of love. Doc was our friend long before he had ever heard of us. His infectious enthusiasm, yet humble approach, to his art made us want to travel the world as musicians.” The Kruger Brothers, including brothers Uwe and Jens on guitar and banjo, and bassist Joel Landsberg, have been performing to American audiences since 1997, and they have been staple High Country musicians for nearly a decade. They play music rooted in folk and tradition, played and arranged with precision and creativity of modern acoustic masters.
In addition to the performances, there will be several other special features and events happening at the Jones House on Friday. Representatives from the new Milestones, a four-CD, 60-plus-page book, project compiled primarily by Doc’s daughter, Nancy Watson. One of the Jones House galleries is featuring a small exhibit of Doc Watson, featuring photographs from the inaugural Celebration. The downtown statue of Doc Watson, located at the corner of King Street and Depot Street, will have the final set of dedicated bricks installed. And Stick Boy Bread Company will be on hand offering refreshments.
The 3rd Annual Doc Watson Celebration is part of the Concerts at the Jones House, which are produced by the Town of Boone and sponsored by the Downtown Boone Development Association, Mast General Store, Footsloggers, MPrints, Stick Boy Bread Co., Melanie’s and Farmer’s Rentals. The Free concerts take place every Friday, starting at 5 p.m. rain or shine. People are encouraged to bring their own chair or blanket. For more information, including a complete schedule, call 828-262-4576.