The trio that makes up Deep River Rising not only found inspiration from the legendary Doc Watson – they spent years playing with him.
And as Watson began to slow down with age, the band grew determined to keep his tradition of folk music born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina alive.
“We felt that somebody needed to be playing the incredible music that he had been,” said David Holt, who performed with Watson for 14 years. “We could see Doc’s career coming to an end and we didn’t want it to fade away because we love him and we love the music.”
Watson died May 29 at the age of 89. But Holt said his sound lives on in Deep River Rising.
The band made up of Holt, Bryan Sutton and T. Michael Coleman will take the stage several times at the Montana Folk Festival July 13-15 in Butte. They play folksy, traditional music deeply rooted in the mountains of western North Carolina.
Holt played with Watson from 1998 until shortly before his death. The duo earned a Grammy award for best folk recording for its CD “Legacy” in 2002
Sutton, who is considered among the best acoustic guitarists in the world, also played with Watson. The two won a Grammy in 2007 for best instrumental.
And finally Coleman played with Watson for a total of 17 years.
Holt describes the music a mix that is influenced by the English, Scotch-Irish and African Americans.
“It’s really that African influence that gives it the funk and the drive it has that’s so powerful,” Holt said this week in a telephone interview, while heading to Yellowstone National Park. “It’s Blue Ridge music and all those influences came together there and really spread throughout the country – the early days of country music really came from there.”
He knows that first hand. Holt, 65, said he grew up in the region playing with some of the earliest pioneers of the style. Several were born in the late 19th century and Holt said he’s proud to keep the sound and tradition alive and bring it to Montana.
“Our goal is to leave no toe left untapped,” he said.
Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at nick.gevock@mtstandard. com.