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Then and Now

Doc & Merle Watson

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Reseña de álbum

This disc features 11 sides from the father and son team of Doc & Merle Watson — sporting their inimitable blend of acoustic folk and traditional country. Their somewhat stylized selection of material is derived not only from the traditional genres, but also from the Watsons' native southeastern United States and its rich Piedmont blues heritage. Then and Now (1973) features the Watsons' distinct reworkings on a variety of material, including Tom Paxton's "Bottle of Wine," Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You," and Merle Travis' classic "That's All." Doc's sly yet understated homespun wit surfaces on the latter as the eldest Watson indicates that the lyrics make "just plain ol' common horse sense." The same straight-ahead no-frills and (best of all) gimmick-free musicianship accompanies their contemporary approach on the traditional "Corrina, Corrina," Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Match Box Blues," and Kokomo Arnold's "Milk Cow Blues." These cuts boast the pair's unique and spry personas, likewise underscoring their infectious and genuine musicality. Doc (guitar/harmonica/vocals) and Merle (guitar/banjo) are augmented by an impressive lineup of support musicians, including Norman Blake (dobro), Vassar Clements (fiddle), Kenny Malone (percussion), and Joe Allen (bass). Collectively, they animate the tracks with upbeat and thoroughly modern personas — intimating the "now" of the title. Representing "then" are the more authentic instrumental renderings of "Bonaparte's Retreat" and "Rain Crow Bill." These two titles perhaps best exemplify the indescribable blend of Doc's amiable, richly toned fretwork as it connects the sonic dots between Merle's equally fluid and exceedingly intricate acoustic slide as well as finger-style and flat-pick guitar. The results are uniformly brilliant, garnering Then and Now a Grammy for Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording — a feat that would be repeated on the follow-up long-player, Two Days in November (1974).

Then and Now, Doc & Merle Watson
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