For nearly two decades, Willie Watson has made modern folk music rooted in older traditions. He’s a folksinger in the classic sense: a singer, storyteller, and traveller, with a catalog of songs that bridge the gap between the past and present. He acts as a modern interpreter of older songs, passing along his own version of the music that came long before him. Most recently, Willie Watson starred in the Coen Brothers film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and recorded the Grammy®-nominated song, “When a Cowboy Trades his Spurs for Wings” for the film’s soundtrack.
From southern gospel to railroad songs, delta blues, Irish fiddle tunes and Appalachian music, Willie Watson’s albums feature songs popularized by artists like Leadbelly, Reverend Gary Davis, Furry Lewis, and Bascom Lamar Lunsford. The songs don’t actually belong to those artists, though - they don’t belong to anyone. Instead, they’re part of the folk canon, passed from generation to generation by singers like Watson. Nodding to the past without resurrecting it, Willie Watson turns his versions into something much more than an interpretation of older songs. His music furthers the legacy of American folk and perhaps most importantly, it shows the full range of Willie Watson’s artistry, matching his instrumental and vocal chops with a strong appreciation for the songs that have shaped not only a genre, but an entire country.
Willie Watson was a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show and also tours with the Dave Rawlings Machine (along with Gillian Welch).