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The Doc Watson Family - Tradition


The Doc Watson Family

Rounder 11661 0564 2

Rounder Records
1 Camp Street
Cambridge MA 02140

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mary Ann Walker

(Previously released as Rounder 0129. Remastered from the original tapes)

If you are looking for a studio polished Doc Watson CD this is not one that you want to add to your collection. But, if you are looking for Doc Watson's musical roots, this is the CD to add to your collection. This CD has snippets of very traditional songs. I use the word snippets because one of the cuts is only 16 seconds. This snippet may only be 16 seconds, but it is a treasure. Hushabye (cut #4) is sung a cappella by Dolly Greer, a cousin of Doc Watson's. This is one of four children's songs she sings on the CD. These four songs include at least one song (Baa Nanny Black Sheep) that you will recognize as the possible traditional root song of Baa Baa Black Sheep that we know today.

The CD contains instrumentals, a cappella, 4 part harmonies, gospel, and ballads. Some can be traced back as far as 17th century England. Doc Watson grew up with these traditional songs and learned even more from his in-laws and more as he hit the road as his career grew. Doc was able to collect many different verses to the same song from several sources then compiled them to form a version that he would later perform and record. In other words he took the traditional songs and the regional verses and put them through the "folk process" to bring about the songs we know and love today.

The liner notes with the CD are outstanding. They give historical notes on the songs and the Watson/Carlton family. It also tells what Doc Watson did with some of the songs and why. The liner notes also reveal the tremendous influence of Doc's father-in-law Gaither Carlton, a fiddle player.

If you are a student of traditional songs then this CD needs to be in your collection. As I listened to this CD I remembered the times that my family would gather on Saturday nights and sing around the piano. The difference between my family and the Watson/Carlton family is that we only had a piano and they had guitars, banjos, and fiddles. They had a family jam.

Track List:

  • Georgie
  • Fish In The Mill Pond
  • Childrens Songs:
    Julie Jenkins
    BAA Nanny Black Sheep
    Sheepy and the Goat
  • I Heard My Mother Weeping
  • Reuben's Train
  • Biscuits 03:14
  • Tucker's Barn
  • Give the Fiddler a Dram
  • And Am I Born to Die?
  • Marthy, Won't You Have Some Good Old Cider?
  • A-Roving On A Winter's Night
  • Arnold's Tune
  • Pretty Saro
  • Early, Early In The Spring
  • Little Maggie
  • Bill Banks
  • Rambling Hobo
  • One Morning in May
  • The Faithful Soldier
  • Omie Wise
  • Jimmy Sutton

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2006, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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