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Showing posts from May, 2012

Doc Watson (1923-2012)

We lost another one. Doc Watson, 89, died Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C., following abdominal surgery. Watson was born in Deep Gap, N.C., March 3, 1923, the sixth of nine children, who lived in a three-bedroom house.

Although Watson was famous for his guitar playing, he also was an accomplished banjo player, learning to play the five-string as a boy. When he was 11, his father gave him a homemade banjo with the skin of a cat used for the head, according to NPR.

GBB has been following the news of Watson's hospitalization after he fell at his home last week.

Watson was always one of those musicians whose albums I never owned, but that I keep meaning to buy. His influence on the 1960s folk revival and later generations of musicians is evident in the work of today's bands like Old Crow Medicine Show, whom Watson is credited with discovering, and the Avett Brothers.

Over the weekend, my wife wanted to listen to the Avett Brothers "Live, Vol. 2," on which they play "W…

June Festivals

Get ready! We're about to enter the height of festival season, starting this weekend with the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention, in Mount Airy, N.C., and the John Hartford Memorial Festival, in Bean Blossom, Ind.

Later in the month is the Indiana Fiddlers' Gathering, June 22-24, in Battle Ground, Ind. On that same weekend is the Early American Banjo Conference at the Antietam National Battlefield in Keedysville, Md.

The summer is a busy time for old-time music events, so GBB won't be able to keep up with everything. Please let us know if we're missing an important event, and report back if you attend any of these festivals, conventions or conferences.

Check out the current issue of Old Time Herald for this year's full festival guide.

Is there an event this summer you're looking forward to?

Prime Porch Picking Time

Spring is in full swing, and the weather is perfect for playing the banjo outside.

My wife and I bought our first house in December 2011, and from the beginning was I looking forward to using the porch for picking.

Earlier this year, some friends joined me for a small house jam, and we got a couple opportunities to play outside instead of the stuffy attic. Recent scheduling conflicts, however, put future plans on hiatus, but that hasn't meant that I'm not out there playing.

We live in a diverse neighborhood, and it's been enjoyable seeing the reactions from the neighbors walking by, mainly youngsters who variably give me the disparaging stink-eye or approving head-nod. One guy, whom I call the "Friendly Neighborhood Roving Rapper," stopped before me on Sunday and engaged in a duel of sorts, with him rapping at me while I played "Candy Girl" back at him. My first rap battle!

Similar to joining my first jam, I've had to learn to play through the distr…

2012 Blue Sky Folk Festival

Coming this Saturday, May 19, in Kirtland, Ohio, is the second annual Blue Sky Folk Festival. The event features performers, workshops, jam sessions and family activities from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. View the full schedule here.

Banjo and old-time music fans should definitely check out performances by Hu$hmoney and Hickory, as well as a clogging workshop by Laura Lewis Kovac.

For updates about the festival, check out the Blue Sky Folk Festival Facebook page. Enjoy and report back if you go.