Here is an unusual album. It was recorded in December 1967 in Doc Watson's living room in North Carolina. Five months before the recording date, Doc and his wife Rosa Lee gave their son, Merle, a banjo. Earlier that year, Merle had asked his folks for a banjo, and they gave it to him a little early, and Merle began to learn to play the five string.
Five months after getting the banjo, Merle and Doc sat down at his dad's home in Deep Gap, NC, and picked out a bunch of bluegrass and mountain tunes—including John Henry, Girl in the Blue Velvet Dress, Worried Blues, Old Joe Clark, Home Sweet Home and others. They had the good thought to record that session, and Doc put the tape away for safe keeping, where it remained unheard for over thirty years. One day T. Michael Coleman, a long time friend, and fellow musician, discovered the tape in Doc's private collection. It was titled, "Merle, banjo, 5 months." When T. Michael heard the tape, he knew that he had found something that the rest of us would love to hear. It was an event waiting to happen.
Doc put his blessing on T. Michael doing a finished recording with the tape. T. Michael called a few other musician friends (Sam Bush, Alan O'Bryant, and Marty Stuart) to add some more instruments to the already recorded banjo and guitars of the two Watsons. This, and some creative audio technology of today's recording studios, has a created a brilliant and enjoyable evening in Doc Watson's living room. Doc's singing is strong and fun to hear after all these years. The recording is also nice, because we get to hear Merle play Scruggs-style banjo, rather than the frailing style, for which he was better known.
While you listen to this historic recording, you know you are taking a step back in time, but the recording is very alive and current, at the same time. The 36 year old Merle was killed in a tractor accident in 1985 near his home in North Carolina. This is a treasure of music played by he and his dad. If you like pure Doc and Merle Watson, you found it.
PO Box 55300
Durham NC 27717-5300