Willie Watson to Perform at App Theatre on Thursday, June 16

Debut Concert is First Event on Mast Store Americana Music Series

BOONE, NC – Fresh from his celebrated appearance at Merlefest, popular folksinger Willie Watson, co-founder of the Old Crow Medicine Show, will make his long-awaited debut at the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 16 as a prelude to the Boonerang Music and Arts Festival that weekend. Tickets go on sale to the public at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 10 at an “early bird” price of $10 per seat, and rising to $15 per ticket on May 12, 2022.

“An Evening With Willie Watson” is the first event on the newly-announced Mast Store Americana Music Series on the Doc Watson Stage of the Appalachian Theatre, and is intended to be an ongoing, year-round program of artists and events celebrating the genre unique to our country. Mast General Store President Lisa Cooper, said, “We are excited to be the naming sponsor of this music series and to have as its first act an individual who was discovered by Doc Watson himself. I can't help but think Doc would be proud to see this performance on his hometown theatre stage.”

ATHC board chair Keith Martin noted the significance of this sponsorship to the historic venue. “Mast General Store was the very first donor to contribute to the ‘Save The Appalachian Theatre’ effort, and was instrumental – pun intended – in the naming of our Doc Watson Stage. Now, with the underwriting of our new Americana Music Series, their name is linked with a musical art form beloved in our community almost as much as the Mast Store itself.”

According to the Americana Music Association (AMA), this artform is defined as, "Contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana music often uses a full electric band."

Watson is a folksinger in the classic sense: a singer, storyteller, and traveler, with a catalog of songs that bridge the gap between the past and present. A celebrated musician with a rich vocal range, Watson is a top interpreter of the folk canon and a highly skilled multi-instrumentalist. Watson was a co-founder of the Old Crow Medicine Show, whose platinum-selling music helped jumpstart the 21st century folk revival.

Mark Freed, Director of Cultural Resources for the Town of Boone and the catalyst behind the Boonerang Music and Arts Festival, said, "I love that the Appalachian Theatre will be kicking off their Mast Store Americana Music series with Willie Watson on the Thursday of Boonerang weekend. Willie Watson is no stranger to Boone and fits in perfectly with the festival's community homecoming theme."

For additional details about the Boonerang Music and Arts Festival, go to www.boonerangfest.com.

For nearly two decades, Watson has made modern folk music that is rooted in older traditions with a catalog of songs that bridge the gap between the past and present. On his album “Folksinger Volume 2,” he acts as a modern interpreter of older songs, passing along his own version of the music that came long before him.

This includes Southern gospel, railroad songs, delta blues, Irish fiddle tunes, and Appalachian music, carrying on a rich tradition in folk music: the sharing and swapping of old songs. Many of these compositions were popularized by artists like Leadbelly, Reverend Gary Davis, Furry Lewis, and Bascom Lamar Lunsford. According to his publicist, “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.”

And what a singer Watson is. With a quick vibrato and rich range, he breathes new life into classic songs like “Samson and Delilah,” one of several songs featuring harmonies from gospel quartet the Fairfield Four. He’s a balladeer on “Gallows Pole,” whose melancholy melodies are echoed by the slow swells of a four-piece woodwind ensemble, and a bluesman on “When My Baby Left Me,” accompanying himself with sparse bursts of slide guitar. “Dry Bones” finds him crooning and hollering over a bouncing banjo, while “Take This Hammer” closes the album on a penitent note, with Watson singing to the heavens alongside a congregation of Sunday morning soul singers.

“I’m not trying to prove any point here,” Watson insists, “and I’m not trying to be a purist. There’s so much beauty in this old music, and it affects me on a deep level. It moves me and inspires me.”

Nodding to the past without resurrecting it, Watson turns his latest album release, “Folksinger Volume 2,” into something much more than an interpretation of older songs. The album carries on the spirit of a time nearly forgotten. It taps into the rich core of roots music. It 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.

For more information about the concert, or to purchase tickets for “An Evening With Willie Watson,” please visit www.apptheatre.org.

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About the Appalachian Theatre

The mission of the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country is to revitalize and sustain this historic community touchstone as a quality home for diverse artists and audiences with a special focus on programs that celebrate our distinctive Appalachian heritage and enhance our capacity to serve as an economic catalyst for Boone and the High Country. Once a gorgeous 999-seat Art Deco movie house, the building closed in 2007 and sat empty and gutted for years. On October 14, 2019, the Appalachian Theatre reopened its doors after a $10 million renovation that brought the distinctive Art Deco details back to this historic theatre and created a new 629-seat, state-of-the-art, acoustically pristine venue for live concerts, films, plays, and dance performances. The historic Appalachian Theatre has entertained regional audiences in the heart of downtown Boone, North Carolina since 1938. www.apptheatre.org

About Mast General Store

With its Original Store located in the rural historic district of Valle Crucis, North Carolina, Mast General Store has grown its family to 11 locations in 10 towns across four states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Historic locations, a focus on customer service, and an eclectic product selection - everything from old-fashioned candies to technical outdoor gear - make every store a destination. The Mast Store is family and employee-owned and is passionate about its local communities. www.mastgeneralstore.com

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