A celebration of Appalachian music and cultural heritage, the Doc & Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove will take place July 15 and 16, 2016 on the grounds of the Historic Cove Creek School in Sugar Grove, N.C., featuring world-renowned recording artists.
Doc Watson 1923 – 2012
All of us at the MusicFest n’ Sugar Grove are deeply saddened by the passing of Doc Watson Tuesday, May 29 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC. He was 89.
Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson was recipient of the National Medal of Arts, a National Heritage Fellowship, and eight Grammy Awards. But to all of us he was just Doc.
While his rich baritone voice, brilliantly distinctive style of flat picking and warm personality will be greatly missed we all feel blessed by the time we spent up close and personal just listening to Doc’s guitar.
MusicFest has had a close association with Deep Gap native Doc Watson since its inception in 1997. The much admired flat-picking guitarist performed at the inaugural MusicFest and headlined many times in following years. Doc’s wife Rosa Lee was often in the audience.
Following the loss of both Doc and Rosa Lee Watson in 2012, the organizers of MusicFest sought to honor them by renaming the festival the Doc & Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove.
“The whole reason we changed the name to the festival was to show appreciation for not just Doc, but also for Rosa Lee and all the hard work she did,” Willard Watson, festival coordinator, said. “She really was the rock of the Watson family. They were a very tight-knit and loving family.”
Willard Watson said the MusicFest family espouses many of the same values that Doc and Rosa Lee possessed, such as giving back to the community and placing a high value on local resources. MusicFest was created as a fundraiser for community development projects in the economically-distressed areas in Watauga County, N.C. and eventually went on to also fund the Doc & Rosa Lee Watson Scholarship Fund for students studying sustainable development at Appalachian State University.
“Through receiving the blessing of Doc and Rosa Lee’s daughter Nancy, we will carry on their legacy of strong Appalachian values,” Willard Watson said.
MusicFest will continue to showcase the bluegrass and Appalachian music Doc popularized. Performers will show their appreciation for the late musician, whose influence and contributions to traditional and cultural expression are known worldwide.
MusicFest welcomes bluegrass and gospel group Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver as a headlining performer at this year’s event. Lawson was a 2012 inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and along with his group Quicksilver, he has been awarded multiple IBMA awards. They will be joined by previous MusicFest favorites such as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Krüger Brothers, and Doc’s long-time friend Charles Welch and grandson Richard Watson.
MusicFest remains an intimate, family-friendly event in a beautiful mountain setting. In addition to the main stage, the festival features a solar-powered stage with up-and-coming performers, musician workshops, a pickin’ parlor, the Doc & Merle Watson Folk Art Museum, and local food and vendors.
Much of the audience have attended the festival multiple times to experience a one-of-a-kind celebration of community, music and Appalachian culture. Willard Watson said it has become a tradition for many music fans.“It’s like a family reunion,” he said. “We have such a constituency that comes back year after year.”
In addition to the wonderful music, you can actually see the stage and mingle with the musicians. You will also be able to enjoy great food and soft drinks (Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Corn on the cob, Bar-B-Q, Thai Chicken, Alligator, Funnel Cakes, etc.). It all tastes wonderful in the fresh mountain air, warm sunshine and soft mountain breeze. Also, vendors of musical instruments/supplies, CDs, tapes, craft items, jewelry, t-shirts, caps, etc. will gladly send you home with a souvenir.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Doc and Merle Watson Folk Art Museum located inside the Old Cove Creek School. The museum, a living tribute to Doc and Merle Watson, will be open during the festival with art and artifacts depicting Doc’s life and music. Admission to the museum is free with a festival ticket. Outside, around the Old Cove Creek School grounds, there will be games and entertainment for the kids, food and drink available as well as merchandise from a host of vendors.
Single day prices are $20 for Friday, $25 for Saturday and $55 for two-day reserved seats. Children 12 and under are free with adults.
For more information contact MusicFest n’ Sugar Grove, PO Box 344, Sugar Grove, NC 28679. PH. or visit www.covecreek.net
MusicFest in the Press:
Mountain Times: Carolina Chocolate Drops return to Sugar Grove July 9
High Country Press: MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove Preps for 14th Annual Event
Winston-Salem Journal: Summer festivals of note
TriCities.com: MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove set for July 8-9