Doc Watson’s posthumous new release Live at Club 47 (Yep Roc) is a previously unreleased recording of a live show on February 10, 1963, in Cambridge, MA at what’s today known as Club Passim. This was Doc Watson just before he got signed to play at the Newport News Folk Festival, a gig that catapulted him into the national spotlight and his first solo album release in 1964. This album captures him live playing traditional songs he had grown up hearing his family play, or that they had all listened to on 78 rpm records. Four of the songs are previously unreleased originals and the others are interpretations of songs by Merle Travis, the Carter family, Frank Hutchinson, and Charlie Poole.
His playing is utterly mesmerizing, but what makes this extra special is Doc Watson’s voice adding banter between songs. To hear him is a genuine delight. He introduces “Wabash Cannonball” as a song that, he says, “is not one of the real old-timers,” but “is old enough that it’s got whiskers on it, “ and adds that this will be a version “according to Doc.” ‘The House Carpenter,” he recounts, is a song he used to hear his Daddy play on the banjo, and then collapses into giggles over the use of the word “puny” as a common country word. Watson was a real comedian on his live shows and this album would complete any Americana collection based on that alone.
Not to be outshone by his banter’s lighthearted human side, Watson’s picking style was masterful even then. Frank Hutchinson’s tunes, “Train That Carried My Girl from Town,” was introduced by a conversation about changing and tuning his strings, than then launches into just a whirlwind of fingerpicking. Song after song is a true treasure. Pick up your copy today! Find one here.