Hear Valerie June & Bill Frisell Reimagine Doc Watson’s ‘Handsome Molly’

The track comes ahead of the release of the tribute album, ‘I Am A Pilgrim: Doc Watson At 100.’

By Andy Kahn Apr 20, 2023 1:10 pm PDT

Valerie June and Bill Frisell recorded a version of the late Doc Watson’s “Handsome Molly.” The track appears on the forthcoming tribute album, I Am A Pilgrim: Doc Watson At 100. The all-star collection of covers is slated to be released on April 28.

A traditional Appalachian folk song, “Handsome Molly” was originally released by Watson in 1961. The tribute album is being released to coincide with what would have been the influential North Carolina flat-picking guitarist’s 100th birthday. Additional participants include Dolly Parton, Jerry Douglas, Marc Ribot, Rosanne Cash, John Leventhal, Steve Earle, Jeff Parker, Matthew Stevens, Nora Brown, Chris Eldridge, Yasmin Williams, Corey Harris, Jack Lawrence, Lionel Loueke and Ariel Posen.

“Doc Watson added an effervescence and spark to American music,” Valerie June stated. “I’m so grateful that his music brought me together with one of my guitar idols, Bill Frisell. By covering ‘Handsome Molly,’ we are welcoming the world to enjoy the wonder and imagination that sends a simple folk song soaring through starry skies.”

“Doc Watson. The one and only,” added Bill Frisell. “What an honor and privilege to have been invited to take part of this beautiful project. So thankful to meet Valerie June for the first time. What a joy this was. We just played. No effort. No fear. Nothing to figure out. Thanks so much to Matt Stevens for giving us this opportunity. He and Jeremy Loucas created a space and welcomed us into it. A place where we could be ourselves. Magic happens. I feel so Lucky.”

Listen to Valerie June and Bill Frisell’s recording of “Handsome Molly” below:

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