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Originally published: 2013-02-13 10:35:59
Last modified: 2013-02-13 11:07:52

Special Watson family music album to be released

by Derek Halsey

High Country music great Doc Watson died in 2012 after a long life of bringing North Carolina roots music to the world.

Considered a legend while still alive, Watson's photo was one of many featured in the "In Memoriam" segment at the recent Grammy Awards.

In November 2012, six months after Watson's May 29 death, his wife, Rosa Lee Watson, died.

Now, with both parents now gone, daughter Nancy Watson has brought forth a new project, called "Doc Watson Family Milestones."

"Doc Watson Family Milestones" will feature four CDs of unreleased music recorded by the Watson family as far back as the 1950s, including Doc playing his electric Gibson Les Paul guitar back in the day.

As a bonus, the package will be accompanied by more than 500 personal photographs, which help tell the story of the Watson family's mountain heritage.

The effort was produced by Roy Andrade, and the music tracks were mastered by the Grammy Award-winning Bill Wolf. 

To help to make this project happen, a kick-starter campaign has been launched to help to raise funds for the "Doc Watson Family Milestones" effort.

Here's how it works: donations are asked for, with the goal of reaching at least $72,000. You can donate as little as $1 -- but here is where it gets interesting.

For those able to donate more, there are Watson memorabilia available at different pledge amounts. For example, those who donate $30 or more will get two never-before-heard mp3s of Doc Watson music not found on the four-disc set. Those who give $133 will receive the two previously mentioned mp3s, plus the entire "Doc Watson Family Milestones" package when it is released in April.

When the donation reaches more than $200, the memorabilia ranges from guitar- and thumb-picks used by Watson onstage to his belt silver buckle, his pocket knife and guitar capo.

A pledge of $3,500 will get you Doc's vintage Kiesel lap steel guitar; add pledge $500 more than that, and you'll get Doc's cigar box slide guitar. His hammered dulcimer has already been grabbed up at the $3,500 level.

The family says they started the campaign because the Watson family could only afford to print 1,000 copies, with an ensuing high price tag, for the public. If this effort is successful, they will be able to produce 5,000 copies of the collection, which will make it more affordable for everyone.

While many who have heard about this venture think that it is a matter of cleaning out the closets after Doc and Rosa Lee's death, it was actually a long time in the making.

"It was daddy's dearest wish to see this released," daughter Nancy Watson said. "I started this in 1999. Daddy knew all about it. When I would be going through all of these old tapes, I would discover something really great, and I would come out of the room and yell, 'Daddy, Daddy, come here. Come here and listen to what I found.' He would come running into the room where I had my equipment set up, and I'd put the headphones on him, and he was so happy. He heard the actual demo of the finished, completed set. He has heard it, and he was so happy with it. He called it an adventure. That was his exact words. It was ready before Daddy passed. He was aware of the whole process. He actually recorded some songs for the project, like 'Carolina Cabin,' 'When I Set Out For Glory' and 'My Lord is a Rock.'"

You can find more information about the Kickstarter campaign -- or donate to the cause -- at The campaign ends Sunday, Feb. 24.