Café Mouffe: Fare Thee Well, Mike Seeger

Mike Seeger – singer, virtuoso instrumentalist, steward of American folk music traditions – died Friday night at 75. According to NPR, Seeger’s “love for traditional songs and tunes inspired many other musicians — including Bob Dylan .

Seeger was a highly respected performer and collector of traditional music and a major force in giving rural Southern musicians a wider audience. He became a spark plug for the revival of interest in American music traditions in the second half of the 20th century.

He was born into a prominent musical family. His half-brother Pete and sister Peggy 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. Read more/listen now.

Mike Seeger tells how Elizabeth Cotton became part of that extraordinary family when he sings her classic song, Freight Train.

I have a memory of hearing Mike Seeger with Hazel and Alice in Yellow Springs sometime in the late 60s or early 70s. But it may be that I only heard a recording of a Kelly Hall concert on the radio, internalizing it deeply. Alice Gerard’s soft keening clarity on Quiero Decir Gracias echoes the springwater pouring out of the Blackhand sandstone below the ridgetop at my grandpa’s farm.

Encore:Listen to Seeger’s banjo on Bob Dylan’s The Ballad of Hollis Brown. The times were a-changin’ then. Find more Mike Seeger clips.

Café Mouffe opens on Fridays. Please drop by for a listen and a chat. Sometimes the embedded videos don’t work here due to bandwidth constraints, but you’ll always find links to video sources in the notes. Try them. If you’re curious about the Mouffe, here’s the original idea behind it’s creation.

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