Our good friend Mike Seeger passed away Friday evening August 9th. Through his love for traditional music, he spent his life educating us, inspiring us, entertaining us and sharing that love of the music. We will miss him.
When Mike went into hospice Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records and the Arhoolie Foundation, wrote Mike a letter. Here is an excerpt:
“You should be satisfied and proud of the fact that you have contributed immeasurably in your life time to the love for old time and traditional vernacular musics of all kinds and their continuing evolutions. Not only did you play and sing and bring these styles to thousands who not only enjoyed your personal versions but were moved to dig deeper into the various genres. But you also shared your ability to present the music to wider audiences by taking so many regional and isolated musicians under your wing, or as in the case of Libba Cotton, even bringing them out of the hidden shadows of just singing for themselves – and thus passing on the whole experience of hearing, meeting, and seeing so many other remarkable human beings as well as their often totally unique music and style.
You also created not only this incredible musical family but your very own as well – I really don’t see how you did it all? And then on top of that your strong voice at Newport and at the National Endowment for the Arts – as an activist and advocate for the real stuff – something so many of the big names in so called “folk music” never bothered with or never felt was even warranted. You and Archie (Green, noted folklorist who also recently passed away) have fought this battle brilliantly and successfully to the best of your ability. What more can a human do? On top of all that you somehow survived economically in this dog eat dog world and with your wonderful, relaxed and peaceful personality influenced more folks in the righteousness of your and our common cause.
Then there is the amazing documentary work you have done from interviewing record execs like Frank Walker to being “song catcher” – a phrase I shall always fondly ascribe to you – but even without the usual economic aspect which could conceivably help you gain financially – as I did and many others who were stuck as non musicians but trying to capture the music of the moment!”
Excerpted from a personal letter from Chris Strachwitz to Mike Seeger, used with Chris’ permission.
Here is a link to a well informed obituary: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/aug/10/obituary-mike-seeger
Visit this superb photo memorial to Mike taken by wonderful photographer Mike Melnyk http://www.mikemelnyk.com/MikeSeeger8_7_09/
To learn more about Mike Seeger, visit the website. Mike Seeger – Music from the True Vine.