From the February 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY ADAM PERLMUTTER

It’s hard to overstate the influence of Doc Watson, the blind guitarist and singer who wowed folk audiences with his virtuosic picking from the beginning of his career in the early 1960s until his death, at 89, in 2012. Pretty much any acoustic guitarist with a knack for flashy leads owes a debt to Watson, who helped elevate the guitar from a time-keeping instrument to a commanding lead voice.


Watson grew up in Western North Carolina—a breeding ground for banjoists, fiddlers, and other folk-music types—and he maintained a deep connection to mountain music. But he had open ears and always put his own imprint on traditional music. Case in point is Watson’s treatment of “Deep River Blues,” first heard on his self-titled 1964 debut album…

The text above is excerpted from Adam Perlmutter’s analysis of “Deep River Blues,” which originally appeared in Acoustic Guitar’February 2018 issue. Watch the video to see Watson himself demonstrate the picking moves behind his interpretation of this acoustic classic, and pick up the February issue for the full text of the article, performance notes, and a full-song transcription.