Carolinas Based Legends

There is a pride that swells up within me when I look at this list of artists. Whether they were musicians, authors, visual artists, or the subject of legendary tales, these Carolinians captured hours of my time and attention over the years.  Only one of them captured my heart, Doc Watson.

Doc Watson, my all time favorite guitar picker, was the first artist that I discovered on my own.  Although I discovered him 30 years after the rest of the world, it didn’t diminish my enthusiasm. I walked into a record shop in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and asked if they had anything featuring a local artist. They gave me the Three Pickers featuring Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs, and Earl Scruggs. I grew up with the other two and had a few of their CDs.. Doc was new to me.

Something about his voice gives me solace. I love hearing him talk, sing, and tell stories. The first time I saw him live was just a month after I picked up the Three Pickers. The show was at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte. I was in the second row directly behind his family.  My son noticed it right off and whispered, “Is he blind?” I had no idea. I never saw him before. It’s not like I could go online and research, either. Neither Google nor the smartphone were around yet.

By the end of that year (2003), I saw Doc 8 times, following him, Richard Watson, Jack Lawrence, and David Holt all over the state. I lost 30 years worth of this man’s work and intended to catch up. I collected everything I can get my hands on and gorged on his mind blowing guitar performances and homespun stories.

What draws me to his work is its innocence and timelessness. Regardless what is going on outside of my headphones or concert hall, for a short while, there are no issues with my job, relationship, kids, politics, or disasters.   Doc had been through it all and still stood strong in faith, mind, and attitude.

Due to his visual impairment, he developed an excellent system for keeping his picks and within easy reach. I was actually at this particular show when he was fumbling around for a capo.

And since it was the Three Pickers that introduced me to Doc Watson, I include this video of their performance.

Andy Griffith – Mt. Airy, NC

Billy Taylor – Greenville, NC

Blind Boy Fuller – Wadesboro, NC

Dizzie Gilliepie – Cheraw, SC.

Doc Watson – Deep Gap, NC

Doris Betts – Statesville, NC

Earl Scruggs – Flint Hill, NC

Elizabeth Cotten – Carrboro, NC

Etta Baker – Caldwell County, NC

Rev. Gary Davis – Laurens, SC

Joe Thompson – Mebane, NC

John Coltrane – Hamlet, NC

Nina Simone – Tryon, NC

William Sydney Porter aka O.Henry – Greensboro, NC

Thelonious Monk – Rocky Mount, NC

Tom Dula – Elkville, NC

Thomas Wolfe – Asheville, NC

This is still a work in progress. I have a long list of artists to still add!

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Molly McGinn

song | writer

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