Doc Watson Family Milestones

Doc Watson’s daughter Nancy, Roy Andrade and others are producing an incredible 4 CD box set of recordings of Doc Watson and his family including Gaither Carlton.  They need your support right now to produce it, with less than 2 days to go on their fund drive: Click Here for the Kickstarter link.

This is a very important collection, which promises to be incredibly powerful, affecting and informative.

Here is a message about it from Jody Stecher followed by a short film about the production of the material and box set itself.  Amazing!

“Milestones” is the most moving and stirring collection of recorded music I have heard in a decade. I co-wrote the liner notes with Roy. “Milestones” is a book of Watson Family photo collages, assembled with scissors and glue over a 10 year period by Doc Watson’s daughter Nancy. And it’s four CDs of music.  The recordings are extraordinary musically but also historically as they comprise a major document of a local musical tradition that was made from within the tradition itself. Some of the music was recorded by Nancy as a girl. Her familiarity to the musicians she recorded gave her access to a side of the singers and players that a folklorist or “collector” from “outside” would be unlikely to ever see or hear.  This includes gentle loving renditions of beautiful traditional songs and tunes by her grandfather Gaither Carlton, sacred songs recorded at home prayer meetings and at Mount Paran Church, and recordings of her parents, together and separately.  There is no aspect of “performance” in these extraordinary recordings, no embodying of what the collector recordist might be perceived to be expecting. This is the Real Deal. And it’s way better than parodies and self-parodies.  Other recordings were made by Doc Watson on good quality home equipment and some of this is multi-tracked so we get to hear a Band-o-Docs.  These were done mostly in the 1950s and they present a truer picture of Doc Watson as complete musician rather than the recordings that were aimed at the folk revival of the 1960s. Some of these recordings were done entirely on a Les Paul electric guitar and an electric bass, both played by Doc. Where else will you find “Groundhog” and “Stardust” on the same recording, sung and played by the same artist, and both done entirely credibly to say the least?  Other bands-o-docs are of vocal, banjo and harmonica.  There are also studio recordings by Doc done at Rich-R-Tone studios in Johnson City, Tennessee. That’s where the Stanley Brothers first recorded. There are some great songs sung by Rosa Lee Watson and some written by her too. And some songs written by Doc. Both are great writers and singers. Other highlights are recordings of other family members. Doc’s mother, his brothers, his cousins, all make memorable music. There is even a banjo duet by Willard Watson and Doc Watson which I have listened to dozens of times and still hear new things each time.

Roy has started a “Kickstarter” campaign to raise enough money to have an initial run of 5000 copies  By having a printing of this many the cost per unit will significantly go down and this will bring the retail price down and this will mean that more people will be able to buy the collection and access the music. Contributions are reciprocated with gifts of Doc’s possessions, including guitar strings, pocket knives, and instruments.

The kickstarter link is

over and out,
Roy says:
I know we can do it. Only 220 people of the tens of thousands of Doc Watson fans have jumped in to support the project. We need a lot more people to participate. Remember, its not free money you are giving – there are rewards for pledging, and some items will prove to be valuable investments, like Doc’s harmonicas. We can’t stress enough, that anything helps. Even $5.
The money pledged is not going into anyone’s pockets – it is specifically for printing and manufacturing. We need to raise enough money to order at least 5000 copies so that the printing costs are affordable, thus making the box-set affordable to buyers. The first time I met Nancy Watson in person, she told me how important it was to her that her project be affordable to the people around Deep Gap. The folks that go to her church, those at the Wildcat flea market, and her friends at Thompson’s seafood restaurant. I am trying to help her achieve that goal.
The set is shaping up beautifully. Debbie Berne in Oakland, CA is doing the layout and design and we are in the final stages of fine tuning it. The book will look like the Sacred Harp, or Christian Harmony shape-note hymnals. Its the same dimensions, but a little thinner. It will be something to behold, when its all done – and the music – it will speak for itself. This is a monumental release in American traditional music. Please help us get there.
Thank you –
Roy Andrade

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