Eighty-eight year old Doc Watson is still very much in
control of his voice, his guitar playing and his audience, as he demonstrated at the Ryman Auditorium July 28, 2011.
And the love being sent from the people in the old wooden pews to the distinguished performer holding court on that historic stage was almost palpable. It was a fine concert.
Accompanied by David Holt (banjo, guitar, and resonator guitar), T. Michael Coleman (bass) and special guest Sam Bush (fiddle), Doc played songs and told stories over two sets. Among the highlights was a three song solo segment that included his rendition of The Twelfth of Never and two gospel songs. About The Twelfth of Never, Doc acknowledged Johnny Mathis and praised his classic recording of the song. But the guitar player from Deep Gap definitely made it his own at the Ryman.
Although he occasionally dropped song lines during the show, he quickly let his guitar do his singing for him to fill in the spaces. Doc was playing a new guitar built by Carl McIntyre and said it was among the first performances he had made with the instrument. Holt commented that Doc has several favorite guitars, including the Gallagher with which he is so closely associated.
Doc Watson is known as a classic eclectic performer and lived up to that reputation with his song selection at the Ryman. Aside from the previously mentioned pop ballad, the show included his renditions of Merle Haggard’s Working Man Blues, Jimmie Rodgers’ T for Texas (complete with yodel) and Milk-Cow Blues, which got a tempo change from the traditional slow blues version to an upbeat jump style half way through.
David Holt also got great audience response to his own Steel Guitar Blues and the classic
Trouble in Mind. Sam Bush brought a sparkle to the second set with his tasteful and stellar fiddle breaks and T. Michael Coleman, who has played bass with Doc Watson off and on over a thirty-plus year period, also added fine vocal harmony.
While Doc Watson and company closed with I Got the Blues and I Can’t Be Satisfied, they were obviously not speaking for the audience who roared with satisfaction through applause and a standing ovation.
Text and photo copyright 2011 Les Kerr
Learn more about Les at www.leskerr.com