Various Artists

Tribute to Doc Watson and His Musical Partners Merle Watson and Jack

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FGM Records is the record-making arm of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, and the label's tribute to Doc Watson is an appropriate one given Watson's central position in the development of flatpicking. He "may not have been the first person to put flatpick to steel strings on an acoustic guitar," writes Dan Miller, editor and publisher of the magazine, producer of the album, and a performer on "The Crawdad Song," "however, he is the one we all look to as the 'father' of this style." Miller gathered together a large number of players, some of them columnists for the magazine, and had them choose songs associated with Watson, then play them in their own styles. (Their own styles, it turns out, are not all that far from Watson's.) But the album is also pointedly a tribute to Watson's "musical partners," Merle Watson and Jack Lawrence. The former is his son, who was killed in a tragic accident, the latter his successor as traveling companion and second guitarist to Watson, who, due to his blindness, could not tour alone. The companionship has influenced Watson's music, making it always a double-guitar performance, and that interaction is replicated here by pairing players (there are also trios and quartets). Probably none of the performers would claim to have bested Watson in a musical style he defined, but the renditions complement their models and attest to the broad influence of Watson on his musical genre.