21 February 2023

Two centenaries

Ten days from now (Fri. 3 Mar. 2023) will be the centenary of the birth of Arthel 'Doc' Watson, the most influential steel-string acoustic guitarist of the past sixty years. Forming part of the celebrations will be the release of the fifteen-track album I am a pilgrim: Doc Watson at 100. Stacy Chandler's No Depression article 'Dolly Parton, Steve Earle, and more featured on 100th birthday tribute to Doc Watson' lists all the tracks and the artists taking part, and includes a video (also on YouTube) of Dolly Parton singing the Tom Paxton song 'The last thing on my mind'.
British Bluegrass News, the magazine of the British Bluegrass Music Association, has just brought out its 100th issue.* Trevor Hyett marks the occasion with a well illustrated four-page feature on its development since the 1970s, and Chris Lord, the present editor, describes the work that goes into producing an issue. The cover story is on the five-piece all-woman band Blue Lass from northern England. Among other features, 'Tab corner' has tabs for 'Denver Belle' on banjo and mandolin, with notation for fiddle, plus a detailed survey by Jack Baker of the life of Kenny Baker; and Trevor Hyett's article on going to Sore Fingers week in England mentions seeing Noam Pikelny giving a private lesson to Paddy Kiernan. And for instrument nerds - Malcolm Harrison, a mainstay of the Cambridge bluegrass scene in the late 1960s and 1970s, writes (with photos) about his extremely rare Vega electric 5-string banjo.

*BIB editor's note, 26 Feb.: According to a well informed source, the landmark of 100 issues of BBN must have been reached over ten years ago. This is supported by the volume numbering of my own (very incomplete) BBN collection, which shows that volume 23 had been reached in 2001. At some date after this, a new system of consecutive numbering was adopted, in which the Feb. 2004 issue carried the number '28'.

© Richard Hawkins

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