Trivia Contest: Doc Watson Encourages Youngster

by Dick Bowden

This Contest is Closed
The winners are Bobbi Bowden and Andy Bing

click photo to enlarge

There’s a very sweet YouTube video made when Doc Watson was alive. It appears to be backstage at some show in the 1990s or 2000s. It looks like a fancy event, because banjoist Pete Wernick is sitting in the room in a tux and bowtie. Perhaps it’s an IBMA Awards Show?

Anyhow, Doc is in a short sleeve sport shirt, not stage clothes. Guitarist Dan Crary and an unidentifiable mandolinist are also in the room – it looks like a backstage green room.

There is a youngster seated amongst all these bluegrass adults. The youngster does some brilliant jamming with the older men. When they’re done, Doc says some very encouraging things to the youngster about talent, and the two exchange some words about living with a handicap. (Doc Watson was blind.)

MARCH 29, 2024 TRIVIA QUESTION

Who is the young bluegrasser in this touching home video? Go to YouTube and research the question if you like. Or just take a guess.

A. Jamie Johnson who plays guitar left-handed

B. Singer Bradley Walker who is wheelchair-bound

C. Blind fiddler Michael Cleveland

D. One-armed banjo player Emory Martin

E. Banjoist Barry Abernathy who has a malformed left hand with just nubs instead of fingers

F. Molly Tuttle who has no hair due to alopecia

ANSWER is “C”

Additional Bowden Comments

Yes, Michael Cleveland is that little boy jamming with Doc Watson. Michael is now among the TOP bluegrass fiddlers. He has his own band “Flamekeepers” with whom he records and tours. He’s also one of the few “first call” studio fiddlers that others ask for on their own recordings. He’s on a hot track out by Tony Trischka and Billy Strings right now — the old timer “Browns Ferry Blues”. Michael is hotter than a two dollar pistol!

Answer A, Jamie Johnson with the Grasscals, is indeed left-handed. That’s not a handicap…

Answer B, is singer Bradley Walker, I believe he lives with CP — cerebral palsy. In spite of being wheelchair bound over the last 15+ years he has befriended many bluegrass (and country) stars and joined them onstage for a solo or duet. He has a smooth rich baritone voice.

Answer D, Emory Martin was an old time banjo player from back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s who recorded with Johnnie & Jack & Kitty Wells, among other. He could play VERY well in fact. He more or less made his living as a country music “novelty act”. His left arm ended where an elbow would normally be; he had no elbow. He would sit in a chair, lay the banjo in his lap with the neck resting on top of the chair back and fret his notes with the end of his left upper arm. It’s surprising how many one armed fiddlers and no-armed guitar players used to ply their trade on stage. And you know they had to play WELL to keep their jobs.

Answer E, is Barry Abernathy with Appalachian Road Show. His left hand is malformed, but he plays excellent Scruggs style banjo with the small nubs of his knuckles. He’s been making his full time living as a bluegrass musician for quite some time now.

I was moved by the gentle, friendly way Doc engaged young Michael. I hope you looked at the video I posted as a hint.

Dick Bowden

Dick Bowden recently retired after a 45 year career in the paper industry, and moved from Connecticut to Big Indian NY (Ulster County) where he ekes out a precarious existence as a groundskeeper. Dick has been performing bluegrass music on banjo and guitar since 1966 in his home state of Maine, throughout New England, and internationally with The Case Brothers - Martin & Gibson. He has performed for HVBA with the Old Time Bluegrass Singers, and also sent in a squadron of Dick Bowden's Flying Circus. Most recently Dick has played Dobro (tm) with the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. Dick has written many articles for Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Today, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass magazine) and HVBA.

4 Responses

  • C Michael Cleveland. I believe he mentioned his meeting with Doc in the interview he gave the NY Times a year or two ago.

  • Yes, Michael Cleveland is that little boy jamming with Doc Watson. Michael is now among the TOP bluegrass fiddlers. He has his own band “Flamekeepers” with whom he records and tours. He’s also one of the few “first call” studio fiddlers that others ask for on their own recordings. He’s on a hot track out by Tony Trischka and Billy Strings right now — the old timer “Browns Ferry Blues”. Michael is hotter than a two dollar pistol!

    Answer A, Jamie Johnson with the Grasscals, is indeed left-handed. That’s not a handicap…

    Answer B, is singer Bradley Walker, I believe he lives with CP — cerebral palsy. In spite of being wheelchair bound over the last 15+ years he has befriended many bluegrass (and country) stars and joined them onstage for a solo or duet. He has a smooth rich baritone voice.

    Answer D, Emory Martin was an old time banjo player from back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s who recorded with Johnnie & Jack & Kitty Wells, among other. He could play VERY well in fact. He more or less made his living as a country music “novelty act”. His left arm ended where an elbow would normally be; he had no elbow. He would sit in a chair, lay the banjo in his lap with the neck resting on top of the chair back and fret his notes with the end of his left upper arm. It’s surprising how many one armed fiddlers and no-armed guitar players used to ply their trade on stage. And you know they had to play WELL to keep their jobs.

    Answer E, is Barry Abernathy with Appalachian Road Show. His left hand is malformed, but he plays excellent Scruggss style banjo with the small nubs of his knuckles. He’s been making his full time living as a bluegrass musician for quite some time now.

    I was moved by the gentle, friendly way Doc engaged young Michael. I hope you looked at the video I posted as a hint.

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