By combining traditional bluegrass with elements of gospel, blues and folk music Watson influenced countless guitarists of all genres.


Photo by Peter Figen

Winston-Salem, NC (May 30, 2012) – Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson died on Tuesday, May 29 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC. He was 89.

Born in 1923, Watson brought the guitar into the modern age of folk and mountain music with his incredible facility and ability to switch between fingerstyle and flatpick-style with ease. He came to prominence during the folk revival in the ‘60s and began to tour throughout the United States as a solo performer. In the early seventies, Watson began to play in duo with his son Merle–namesake of the annual MerleFest that Watson hosted–until Merle’s untimely death in 1985.

By combining traditional bluegrass with elements of gospel, blues and folk music Watson influenced countless guitarists of all genres and recorded over fifty albums. Although not a prolific songwriter, a few of Watson’s songs have been recorded by other artists. Alison Krauss and Robert Plant recorded “Your Long Journey,” which was co-written by Watson’s wife, Rosa Lee, on their Grammy-winning album, Raising Sand.

During the last few decades Watson’s recording output slowed down but he continued to play gigs until the end of his life. Recently, he has been inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame, received a National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton, and an honorary doctor of music degree from the Berklee School of Music.

A father-and-son team work together to create an original, futuristic gold guitar, and the result is extremely satisfying.

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While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

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