Doc and Dawg at LBC

 
 
By Derek Dahlen
 
Old-time mountain music at it's best was performed by Arthel "Doc" Watson and David "Dawg" Grisman, along with Jack Lawerence, at the Luther Burbank Center on the Vernal Equinox (March 21st). The hillbilly music from the Appalachian Mountains, better known as bluegrass, has long been a symbol of rural America, and it was from these fiddle and banjo tunes that country music developed.
Doc Watson, a blind guitarist and singer, was "discovered" by contemporary bluegrass musicians in his hometown of Deep Gap, North Carolina in the late 1950's. The quality and breadth of Watson's repertoire and his ability as a banjoist and harmonica player enormously impressed bluegrass enthusiasts, but his outstanding feature was his guitar style. Using a flat-pick (or plectrum) he could play the most complicated fiddle tunes with complete accuracy and at an amazing pace. Doc has played with such greats as the mandolinist extraordinare Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass. But, no mandolinist compares to the internationally renowned styles of David Grisman.
"Dawg" Grisman was introduced to Watson's music in 1961 and met the legendary musician the following year. Since, Grisman and Watson have never missed the opportunity to pick together. At their concert at the LBC, Doc and Dawg put on a show of cosmic magnitude. They are so comfortable playing together that hearing them play feels as though you're sitting in their living room enjoying an evening with the two musicians. The music that these two make together warms the soul and livens the feet.
The drive and enthusiasm that Doc and Dawg put into their music is an enlightening experience to witness. Doc will sing the lyrics and Dawg will play the lyrics back to Doc with his mandolin. This call and response style can be very fun and is often played fast enough to keep the whole audience in a state of amazement. Bluegrass music is about the best toe-tappin', knee-slappin', get-out-on-the-floor and start dancin' genres of music that exist today.
Bluegrass is real country. All the instruments are acoustic and all of the voices are genuine. When you listen to bluegrass you hear the roots of backwoods rural music. This is the original "American" music. Within the lyrics of bluegrass music are stories that have been passed down for generations. As Ricky Scruggs says, "Country Rocks, but Bluegrass Rules."


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