April 2010 Volunteer Spotlight - Larry Lewin
Larry Lewin, who will be volunteering at MerleFest for the seventh time this year, is the ultimate Doc Watson fan. He knows that he has shaken Doc's hand three times in the past thirty-four years and can tell you when and where those handshakes occurred. He fondly relates the story of meeting Doc's wife Rosalee at MerleFest 2006 and her kindness to him. One might think Larry is a local northwest North Carolinian when they learn of his love for bluegrass and his admiration for Doc, but no! Larry Lewin lives in Seattle, Washington where he first saw Doc perform along with Clint Howard and Fred Price in 1967 at a Seattle Folklore Society concert.
"I was transfixed by his guitar playing and became an instant fan. I began buying his recordings and subsequently attended his concerts whenever possible." Larry had the opportunity to meet Doc and Merle in 1975 at another Seattle Folklore Society concert with T. Michael Coleman, Jim Isbell, and Chuck Cochran.
Larry, a retired engineer, is a volunteer co-host of a radio show dedicated to folk music called "Our Saturday Tradition". In his work with radio he has had the opportunity to interview Doc and other artists. But when he comes to MerleFest, Larry is willing to do anything to help. Perimeter security, stage usher, relief, Little Pickers, and more recently stage crew are some of the volunteer positions he has had in his seven years at MerleFest.
Learning was always a priority in his home when he was growing up. "These values have been instilled in me, and it gives me a lot of satisfaction to be able to play even a microscopic role in enhancing the educational opportunities provided by Wilkes Community College."
Larry's favorite MerleFest performers? His list is so long that it reads like the MerleFest line-up for the last several years. But they include Bearfoot, Laura Boosinger and Josh Goforth , David Holt, Sam Bush, Doc and Richard Watson and many more. His favorite MerleFest memories involve kindnesses shown to him at the festival—the time a MerleFest staff member found a much desired poster for him just as he was frantically trying to leave for the airport to go home. That poster now hangs in the radio station where he works. In yet another desperate race to get to the airport, a festival security guard took the time to help him find a lost jacket (a gift from his girlfriend).
As a true fan of the Watson family's music, Larry clearly remembers the day he heard about Merle's death. "I was driving home from work on the freeway listening to 'All Things Considered' on NPR when the news of Merle's fatal accident was reported. I was totally shocked and nearly drove off the road." Now Larry makes the long trip to North Carolina to the festival that bears Merle's name and contributes through his volunteer efforts to keeping that music alive. Thank you, Larry, and to all the volunteers who help make MerleFest possible.