Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 66

guest column

What is it about Doc?
Four-time Grammy winner (including
two with Doc Watson for "Legacy")
David Holt is a musician, storyteller,
artist, historian and radio/TV host.
He learned his treasure trove of music
directly from greats including Watson,
Roy Acuff, Grandpa Jones and others.
He is a member of the North Carolina
Music Hall of Fame and has performed
at more than half of the MerleFests; he
plays this year on Thursday, Friday and
Saturday.
by David Holt
This year marks the 30th celebration of MerleFest at Wilkes
Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
The festival began as a fundraiser for a Garden of the
Senses. Doc Watson supported the cause and helped establish the festival, which is named in memory of his
son, Eddy Merle Watson. In the year leading up to the
first festival, Doc invited many of his and Merle's friends
to perform. And because Doc and Merle were loved by
so many musicians, the festival quickly became a multiple-venue, multiple-day event. Today, the festival attracts over 100 of the world's best musicians and more
than 75,000 fans from around the globe to participate
in the four-day music festival that spreads across 13
stages. And everyone shares a love for Doc and Merle.
MerleFest is a great festival, but you have to ask yourself why is there so much devotion to the memory of
Doc and Merle Watson, from both fans and friends, at
the annual homecoming?
I performed with Doc for 14 years and in just about
every concert, whether it was 250,000 people in Golden
Gate Park or 2,000 folks in Raleigh, fans would be so
moved that they would yell out, "We love you, Doc,"
and everyone would clap in agreement. Fans cared
deeply for him, and he loved playing for them.
It was music that brought fans to Doc, but it was the
way he filled each note with emotion that made them
diehard fans. Doc was the most naturally musical person I ever met. He inhabited every note he played or
sang. Each guitar solo told a musical story. The notes
led somewhere and took you on an imaginative journey. Doc had the "three T's of music" in abundance ...
66 BlueRidgeCountry.com

David Holt's admiration for the late Doc Watson is evident in this photo
from one of the many times they performed together at MerleFest.

timing, tone and taste. He never overplayed. He knew
which notes to put in and which notes to leave out.
But the music alone doesn't explain the devotion.
Maybe it was his regal bearing and his warm inviting
voice, his chiseled face and silver hair. You could sense
he was honest and real. Considering his hardscrabble
roots and total blindness, you had to admire the fire and
fierceness inside him.
He often said that had he been sighted and could
have afforded college, he would have been a mechanical
engineer. Luckily for us, he followed music.
Arthel "Doc" Watson was extremely intelligent and
extraordinarily talented, but because he was blind and
growing up in the mountains of Western North Carolina in the 1920s and '30s, he had little opportunity for
education beyond the eighth grade. Doc told me he felt
sorry for himself until he heard Helen Keller. He was 10
years old and attending the blind school in Raleigh. Doc
was deeply moved. He realized if Helen Keller could accomplish so much being both blind and deaf, he could
do anything he put his mind to. It was a turning point
in his life. It was the beginning of young Arthel turning
into the great Doc Watson.
Why do we hold Doc in such high esteem? Of course,
because of his accomplishment, perseverance and integrity. But most of all, because of his joy in sharing his
extraordinary music with us.
And so it is that we all love MerleFest because it keeps
Doc and Merle's memory and musical spirits alive. MerleFest 2017 takes place April 27-30. The full lineup is
available at MerleFest.org. 


http://www.MerleFest.org http://www.BlueRidgeCountry.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017

Features
Festival Guide 2017
Waterfalls of North Carolina: A Photo Essay
Wytheville Loves Edith
Barry Glick, Garden Guy
Vanishing Landmarks of North Georgia
Cheese!
Departments
From the Editor
Contributors
Mill Creek Stories
Worth a Click
Creature Feature
The Good Walk
Mountain Report
Country Roads
Singing in the Garden
Festivals & Events
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Contributors
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - The Good Walk
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Festival Guide 2017
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Waterfalls of North Carolina: A Photo Essay
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Wytheville Loves Edith
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Barry Glick, Garden Guy
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Vanishing Landmarks of North Georgia
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cheese!
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover4
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