Doc Watson

Guitar great Doc Watson passed away earlier this week. I’ve stolen a lot from him. Well, one thing. But it’s a good one.

When I play guitar or ukulele using my fingers to pick instead of strum, I use a basic Piedmont-esque / Merle Travis style that I learned from Watson via an instructional VHS tape I checked out from the Long Branch Public Library in Silver Spring, Maryland in 2002, and which I now see is a Smithsonian Folkways video still available on DVD called Doc’s Guitar: Fingerpicking & Flatpicking.

Specifically, I stole the first bit he teaches/plays on that video: “Deep River Blues.” Below, you can see me doing trying to do this bit  — same key (E), same diminished chord (G dim), same neck position and everything — as The Viper and His Second String perform the Neil Young song “Vampire Blues” (shot and uploaded to YouTube by Sue Peacock earlier this year — that’s birthday boy John Peacock you’ll see taking the suitcase solo in the middle). [Need to track down a copy of this video – It’s gone!]


And now here’s Doc Watson doing the same thing but better on “Deep River Blues.”

from Doc Watson performs “Deep River Blues” in the DVD “Doc’s Guitar: Fingerpicking & Flatpicking,” Smithsonian Folkways, Published on Jul 13, 2010

Great stuff. And now you can learn how to do it too!

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