When Willie Watson steps out alone on stage in Allston, Massachusetts, he looks every bit as though he’s wandered out of another time. His wide-brimmed hat, plain button-down shirt, and twangy banter all pin him to a different era. Beginning to play the banjo, Watson overlays his preferred clawhammer style with warbling vibrato, all of which add to the picture — as if he’d been among the musicians who traipsed to Bristol, Tennessee, to participate in Ralph Peer’s recording sessions in 1927. Comments about authenticity have long dogged him, but Watson prefers to avoid such talk. He’s not attempting to recreate so much as create, and he just so happens to be using the past for inspiration.
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