John Scott's Staff Pick: March 9, 2023

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone had a nice week. Last Friday, March 3rd, would have been Doc Watson’s 100th birthday, whom I’ve talked about many times here in the newsletter. To celebrate the life of such an amazing artist and North Carolina legend, Billy Strings performed two nights in Winston-Salem here in North Carolina, about an hour and a half from Deep Gap, the town where Doc was born and spent most of his life. The first night (Friday) was a tribute to Doc and the music he loved to play, featuring lots of guests, including some pickers that used to play with him back in the day. It was an incredible show, three and a half hours of straight flatpicking, no set breaks or anything. He ended up playing 45 songs the first night, which blew my mind. I could have listened to him play 100 of them though… I was having such a great time. I got to hear so many songs I’ve only dreamed about being able to hear live, like Otto Wood the Bandit, the true story of a one-armed bandit from North Carolina who escaped jail over ten times till they finally locked him up in Central State Prison here in Raleigh, just down the road from Sorry State, where he escaped four separate times before finally being shot down by the sheriff the final time he escaped on December 31st, 1930. That’s why I love folk and bluegrass music so much, cause there’s so many songs that tell crazy stories about stuff that happened right down the road from where you. Another favorite of mine that was played the first night was Tom Dooley, an old, true story about a man who was hanged for killing his mistress, but many people believe it was his wife that killed her and he was framed for the crime. North Carolina had some crazy shit going on back in the day and it’s so cool to hear someone still perform these songs and tell these stories to an arena full of thousands of people. The second night was also a great show, more of a return to a regular Billy show, but was mostly his own original music since the night prior was all covers. The encore, though, is what really did it for me, when he busted out Tony Rice’s old 1935 D28 guitar and he and the band all gathered around one mic and played a couple of Tony Rice tunes. All in all it was a great trip, but I’ve gotta say that first night was probably my favorite show I’ve ever been to and it’ll be hard to top it. Thank you for your music Doc Watson, here’s to 100 more years of it.

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