Sunday, August 09, 2009

RIP Mike Seeger

If there was one person who would have a lasting influence on me, it would have to be Mike Seeger. From the very first time I heard David Lindley talk about him during a banjo lesson in 1962, I knew I had to hear this guy. And when I did hear the New Lost City Ramblers, it was like I was taken into another world from which I would never emerge. I not only loved his music- which was a virtual history of twentieth century rural America- but I would even copy the way he dressed as well as the jokes he told. And even though he was fairly conservative in his approach, you could see him spreading his wings in his later years, for instance his part in the great record he made with John Hartford and David Grisman, in which he played Dylan, Otis Redding and Chuck Berry as if he were channelling Charlie Poole, or appearing on Ry Cooder's recent work. As a musician and collector, Mike Seeger was unequalled. In fact, the first time I heard Mike Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers was at the Ash Grove, the same night Mother Maybelle Carter called in to say she wasn't going to make and sent Johnny Cash in her place. I remember telling Mike Seeger that I had been prepared for Jimi Hendrix in 1967, but not Johnny Cash in 1962. It took me years to digest hearing Cash and the NLCR on the same night. I've yet to recover.

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