With sadness we mark the passing of one of the real true greats of American music in the last half century. Mike Seeger was a master of the banjo, guitar, fiddle, autoharp, mouth harp, jew’s harp, quills, mandolin and essentially any instrument he laid his hands on as well as being a great singer. He died at his home in Virginia on Friday after a long battle with cancer, he was 75.
I’m writing from the road, out on tour with my old-time string band. We’re here in Cincinatti, OH today, listening to Mike’s “Second Annual Farewell Reunion” album, a wonderful record he did with a number of friends back in 1973 and remembering this man who brought us so much amazing music both as a member of the New Lost City Ramblers, a solo performer and as a promoter/field worker. Mike Seeger’s influence on American music is untold. He was an inspiration to nearly everyone involved in the field of traditional music in this country for the past 50 years and consistently brought to light amazing songs, musicians, musical styles and histories which we might otherwise never have heard about. Although he had cancer for a number of years his final passing was quick and he left the world still busy performing and documenting the music that he loved.
I’m reposting here an interview I did with Mike Seeger back in 2003 and first posted on DHR back in 2008. It was my first real radio interview! Also included (the 2nd play button) is a recording of the live set that Mike played when I booked him at the Oberlin College Folk Festival in 2003. Below are links to a lot more information about Mike Seeger and his work.
Reposted from 2008:
This week I’ll be drawing from my “archives” for an interview with Mike Seeger, multi-instrumentalist, field-recordist, record producer and 1/3 of the New Lost City Ramblers. This interview is from a tape of one of my old radio shows from college. It was conducted in May 0f 2003 at WOBC, the radio station of Oberlin College in Ohio. This was my first real radio interview! I had booked Mike to come and play at the Oberlin Folk Festival and while in town he appeared on the weekly radio show I hosted with my friend Jacob Groopman. We talk about his parents Ruth Crawford and Charles Seeger, Elizabeth Cotton, Dock Boggs, Josh Thomas, Henry Thomas, Alan Lomax, the current state of folk music and more, and Mike plays some gourd banjo and jaw harp live on the air.
Included above are the interview with Mike, and a recording of his appearance at the Oberlin College Folk Festival, May 2003.
Special thanks to Tom Reid of Oberlin College for providing the live recording of Mike Seeger at the Oberlin Folk Festival.
Homemade American Music – “A history of rural southeastern traditional American music, as told and played by Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard. Mike and Alice recount their own involvment with this music, and briefly trace its history as we meet their mentors: the late Tommy Jarrell, Lily May Ledford, Roscoe Holcomb and Elizabeth Cotten.” – Watch it online for free at FolkStreams.net
Talking Feet – A documentary produced by Mike Seeger on Southern buck and flat foot dancing. Its awesome and you can watch it online for free at FolkStreams.net!
Southern Banjo Styles – A series of DVDs where Mike Seeger teaches a very wide variety of banjo styles. This is the best video instruction available on how to really play old-time banjo.
More information on Henry Thomas
Article on Thomas Hart Benton who turned Mike’s parents on to Dock Boggs.
New Lost City Ramblers at Alan Lomax Memorial Conference, 2003
Mike Seeger playing music with me and some friends at our house in college, Oberlin, OH, May 2003. (I’m 2nd from the left)