As previously reported in this blog, Mike Seegar, aged 75, died of cancer at his home in Lexington, VA on 7th August 2009.
He was a tireless champion of American southern music and had produced 30 documentary recordings of traditional music and another 38 of his own music. Mike was very well respected performer, collector of traditional music and a major force in the promotion of southern musicians with rural origins in the USA.
He was born into a prominent musical family with his half-brother Pete and sister Peggy, all of whom are renowned musicians and social activists. His father, Charles, was a folklorist. His mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger, was a music scholar, teacher and classical composer.
Mike Seeger started playing music in his teens and especially loved traditional music. He played an assortment of instruments including guitar, fiddle, banjo and harmonica.
Mike, along with John Cohen and Tom Paley, formed the New Lost City Ramblers in the 1950’s. In addition to his work with the New Lost City Ramblers, Seeger pursued a solo career which took him around the world. He collected and documented music and dance, appeared at countless educational events and produced teaching videos on numerous instruments and styles.
He received 6 Grammy nominations and served as an advisor or consultant for government agencies, a record company and many folk festivals. In 2003 The Society for American Music presented Mike with its Honorary Membership Award.
Old-time rural music remains at the center of my life. It’s a tactile, emotional, aural pleasure, the words are my Shakespeare and my mysteries, the music is my Bach, my pastime, and it makes me want to dance… Classic, timeless qualities in this music endure. For me, there ain’t no way out but nature, and I’ll make the most of it – Mike Seegar 1977.
Jan Dale will be paying a tribute to Mike Seeger on her radio program Southern Style on Tuesday 18th August at 1:00pm on PBS FM 106.7. It will include an interview she made with him in 1994. You can also catch the program by streaming broadcast on www.psfm.org.au.
You might like to read the Smithsonian Folkways article on Mike Seegar.