Bryan Sutton, David Holt and T. Michael Coleman are nationally renowned musicians who shared intimate and enduring friendships with North Carolina guitarist Doc Watson, who died last year at age 89.
Bassist Coleman accompanied Watson for about15 years, while four-time Grammy winner Holt toured and recorded with the National Heritage Fellow during his final 14 years. Asheville native Sutton, considered one of the world’s finest acoustic guitarists, was heavily influenced by Watson with whom he shared a 2007 Grammy award for best instrumental recording.
With “Ready for the Times,” the trio presents 15 tunes and songs rooted in the musical traditions of western North Carolina. The twang of Holt’s mouth bow kicks off the fun with the old-timey “Johnson Gals.” Clawhammer banjo, mandolin, slide guitar and other acoustic instruments ring clear on such chestnuts as “Down the Road,” “Cindy,” “Darlin’ Cory” and “Forked Deer.”
Arrangements from Watson’s repertoire are represented with “Red Rocking Chair,” “15 Cents,” “Travelin’ Man” and “Train that Carried My Girl from Town.” “Hangman’s Reel” is a Sutton-styled guitar-picking tour de force, while Holt’s “Hotel Wall” features Sam Bush on mandolin.
Many of the tunes and songs date to or before the emergence of commercial country music in the 1920s. Sutton, Holt and Coleman draw from the well of tradition, but advance the music into the 21st century.
In the notes, Sutton writes that the music is “not bluegrass, it’s not old-time, it’s mountain music, and it’s ours. It has a unique kind of bounce.”
Correspondent Jack Bernhardt