The Best in Acoustic Music Performance

Remembering Mike Seeger

August 15, 1933 - August 7, 2009

Photo of Mike Seeger at Clifftop 2007
Mike Seeger at Clifftop, 2007
© Tim Brown, 2007

It is with great sadness that we learn that Mike Seeger passed away on August 7, 2009. Mike has touched so many of us. He was a fabulous musician who had a tremendous love of folk music and the musicians who kept the traditions alive. His passion for traditional music has influenced thousands, inspiring many of us to take up this music and carry it on.

It is a great blessing to have spent time with Mike and his musical legacy will stay close to our hearts. Thanks to Mike's monumental work collecting, producing, performing and teaching traditional music, we are left with a wealth of source material in both recordings and films. His reach also extends to the countless fans and musicians who have seen him perform since the middle of the last century.

We at 5-String are humbled to have worked with Mike and Alice Gerrard in releasing Bowling Green, a stunning collection of studio and live concert recordings they made between 1967 and 1980.

We send our condolences to Mike's family, especially his beautiful wife, Alexia Smith.

Read NPR's tribute to Mike Seeger

-- 5-String Productions

August 8th, 2009

My encounters with Mike Seeger were too few and too brief. My most prominent memory of him is from a music party at his house on Sunday, September 16th, 2001, after the Rockbridge Mountain Music & Dance Festival. Following a great weekend at the festival, including a raucous reunion of the Bent Mountain Band (Mike Seeger, Paul Brown, and Andy Cahan), a bunch of folks ended up at Mike and Alexia's home for some more music. While I was there, there was really only one jam session, but it morphed and grew as people finished eating their supper and picked up their instruments.

The way Mike approached the session was enlightening to me. He very well might have been in the small group that started the session, but as soon as there were several fiddles, banjos, and guitars, things changed. Rather than add to the redundancy of instruments, Mike would pick up a mandolin for a few tunes, then the next piece might cause him to pull out the cello. I have never seen such an intense and selfless devotion to music as I witnessed that afternoon. In retrospect, I have boundless admiration for Mike's fluency on all the instruments. However, the most impressive thing was his reverence first and foremost for the music, and the way he let that reverence, and not his ego, guide his musical choices.

I find myself observing jam sessions informed by that memory. I am now leery to be the third or fourth person playing any given instrument. Instead, I keep hoping that Mike Seeger will appear from around the corner with a mandolin, cello, or jaw harp to join the session and fill out that old-time sound. It saddens me to know that that won't happen again, but I feel blessed to have known and played with such an extraordinary man.

-- Matt Brown