RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina House honored music legend and native son Doc Watson with a resolution Thursday.
Lawmakers said the late guitarist forever changed the genres of folk, blues, country and bluegrass with his signature style and voice. Born in Deep Gap in 1923, Watson is credited with developing the flatpicking style of guitar playing and leaving his mark across a broad range of American roots music over a decades-long career.
Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said he was glad he got the chance to take his son to a Watson show before the singer's death at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem last year at age 89.
"We produce in this world a lot of extremely talented, bright people who contribute in a whole range of fields, but there are really only a very few geniuses produced, and Doc Watson was truly a genius when it came to music," he said.
The House unanimously passed a resolution that charted Watson's beginnings on a regular radio program in Lenoir and his major appearances with Bill Monroe, often considered the father of bluegrass.
The Town of Boone dedicated a life-size statue to Watson in 2011 inscribed with the phrase, "Just one of the people."
Meanwhile, Wilkesboro's MerleFest music festival, named after Watson's son, kicked off its 26th year Thursday for the first time without Watson. Festival organizers said the four-day event will include a jam session Saturday featuring many of Watson's closest musician friends, who will tell stories and play some of Watson's favorite songs.
"From the beginning, Doc Watson has been the artistic center of this festival," says festival director Ted Hagaman. "So for MerleFest 2013, we will come together as a family to pay special tribute to the man and the musician who meant so much to us all."
The festival will also feature a section in its program dedicated to Watson, videos throughout the events and special displays.
Merlefest was started in 1988 in memory of Watson's son Merle, who died at age 36 in a 1985 tractor accident. Doc Watson and his son had performed together for more than two decades.