Doc & Merle: Staying Ahead of The Beat

For the life of me, I don’t have a clue as to who the other guitarist is besides Merle and Doc.

Yea, it say’s Roland but it would be great if someone here could help me out… The bass however is T Michael Coleman.

Not knowing who this guy is and no YouTube description makes this flatpicking guitarist quite embarrassed cause this is the music I grew up on. In fact, Salt Creek was one of the first songs I learned on guitar way back, and it was Doc and Merle with T Michael’s version that got the juices flowin’.

People marvel at flatpicking… Yea, it’s come a long way since Doc, but nobody did it like Doc really, with all that drive and pure simplicity. Try it and you’ll see, it ain’t that easy!

One of the secrets to good flatpicking is timing. Yea you can get a metronome out and practice (and I do suggest you “zen” with the nome). But this 4 piece is playing Salt Creek very much “ahead of the beat” meaning, if a metronome was on, their notes would beat the metronome to the punch. The main thing in this music is hitting the mark with the timing and staying steadily ahead with the notes to keep the drive going. Sit back and wait, and you’re not going to be playin’ it right.  But it’s not changing tempo… it’s just getting there a little earlier on each note.  Fiddler Jimmy Buchanan in a session once told me “you can be early for the train but if you’re late you’ll miss it.”  I thought that was a great analogy for bluegrass music. So listen again to this song and hear what I’m saying about playing ahead of the beat, and how exciting it is when it’s done by the great Doc Watson and company.

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