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By the end of his life and career, Doc Watson had seven Grammy Awards to his name and was highly regarded as a talented and influential musician.
Watson had a great deal of musical knowledge, and was known for his excellent flatpicking skills as a guitarist. Flatpicking is a technique that involves striking the strings of a guitar with a pick that the player holds between his or her thumb and one or two fingers.
Due to his talent, Watson was able to bring flatpicking to the folk genre, allowing future artists to build off of the foundation he set. He had the chance to show off his musical skills on his debut, self-titled album in 1964, which featured a number of bluesy songs, including the traditional tune “Deep River Blues.”
Early in his career, Watson was filmed playing and singing along to “Deep River Blues.” He introduced his performance by saying that the song may have been popular during the steamboat era. After his short introduction, he moved into the song, starting off with a short solo on the guitar.
When Watson starts singing, if you close your eyes you won’t find it hard to imagine yourself in a simpler time, riding a steamboat down a river. But make sure to open your eyes at some point, because the video zooms in to show Watson’s hands as he plays the guitar. This up-close look will give you a whole new level of appreciation for his talent.
Watson is dearly missed, but we’re so thankful he left behind a great musical legacy to remember him by.