After a tribute to Professor Longhair, a legendary blues musician from New Orleans, John went into the popular American folk song, “St. James Infirmary,” followed by “Blues in the Night,” a song from his 2006 release “Mercenary.”
Ditto Arthel “Doc” Watson, whose versions (I think he’s recorded it twice) I have not previously written about. (Something else for the to-do list there.) A reviewer for the Troy, New York daily relates:
Watson dazzled a nearly sold-out crowd at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall for almost two hours, as he romped through the classic songbook of great American music — blues, folk, country, gospel, bluegrass and even a bit of jazz for good measure. It was a mighty amazing performance by any standard, but when you factor in that Watson has been blind almost since birth and that he just celebrated his 84th birthday, it’s not just amazing; it’s downright miraculous.
The guitar man from Deep Gap, N.C., had a bit of a problem early on in the evening, as his voice sounded just a tad sandpapery on some early tunes like “Shady Grove.” But by the time he kicked off his trademark “Deep River Blues,” he was back in full command….
Watson’s fabulous guitar flatpicking techniques were showcased during a number of instrumental fiddle tunes, such as “Beaumont Rag” and “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” but he was dropping in devastatingly hot licks throughout the night on train songs (“The Train That Carried My Girl From Town” and “Railroad Bill”), gospel gems (“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “Stand By Me”) and blues favorites (“Milk Cow Blues” and “St. James Infirmary”). He even put down his guitar and charmed the crowd with two flashy harmonica solos for “Fisher’s Hornpipe” and “Cripple Creek.”