Doc Watson At Gerdes Folk City

This well-preserved, intimate recording, circa 1963, shows the master folk guitarist at the height of his power. The 38-year-old blind musician, who had spent most of his performing career accompanying banjoist Clarence Ashley, had only recently been "discovered" by folk revivalists eager to bring "authentic" artists from the South to the burgeoning scenes in the North. This album marks his New York solo debut in front of a rapt young crowd and is a nice companion piece to his landmark debut album on Vanguard a year later. With his trademark mellow vocals, Watson's fingers effortlessly blaze through 14 standards ranging from "Little Sadie," "The House Carpenter," "The Wagoner's Lad," "Cannonball Rag" and "The Roving Gambler," putting his indelible stamp on each. At a time when British guitarists Bert Jansch and Davey Graham were redefining acoustic music, it's clear how much of a debt they owed, consciously or unconsciously, to Watson, whose virtuosity had been, and probably still is, without peer in his home country. (Sugar Hill)