Composed

The Copyright Office database credits Mike Seeger with 3 published compositions or arrangements, including:

  • “Birmingham Tickle”
  • “Holston Valley Breakdown”

Early Influences

  • Charles Seeger (father)
  • Ruth Crawford Seeger (mother)
  • Pete Seeger (half brother)
  • Elizabeth Cotten
  • Hazel and Guy Dickens
  • Bob Baker
  • Archive of American Folk Song

Came to Fame With

New Lost City Ramblers, 1958-1979

Performed With

  • Pike County Boys, 1954
  • New Lost City Ramblers, 1958-1979
  • Strange Creek Singers, 1968-1976
  • Solo performer, 1960-2009
  • Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard, 1970-1980
  • Bent Mountain Band, 1981

Led the Way

  • Produced the first bluegrass long-play album: American Banjo Tunes & Songs in Scruggs Style (Folkways, 1957).
  • Co-founded the New Lost City Ramblers (1958).
  • Recorded numerous live performances of seminal first-generation bands in the 1950s.
  • Wrote one of the first definitions and explanations of bluegrass (1959).
  • Advocated for bluegrass bands to perform at the Newport Folk Festival.
  • Received six Grammy nominations.
  • Inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame in 2018.

By the Way

  • As a teenager, stopped playing music only in order to learn to ride a bicycle.
  • Proficient on fiddle, dulcimer, guitar, banjo, Dobro, autoharp, jew’s harp, and mandolin.
  • Made his first recording of folk music in 1952, taping housekeeper Elizabeth Cotten.
  • Described as a “one-man traditional festival.”
  • One of his last recordings was made with Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin fame) and Alison Krauss, in 2007.

From the Archives

“Bluegrass continues to be the most popular type of music amongst the young hill-musicians and is rapidly becoming something of a fad amongst the young folk music people of the north. Bluegrass string music, an established style in the long neglected field of country music, now appears to be taking its place with other styles in the urban revival of folk music.”
Mike Seeger, “Mountain Music Bluegrass Style,” Sing Out!, February/March 1961.
“I always tried to get people from the city or the north to come to the New River Ranch and try to encourage more people to enjoy the music that I liked so much. I felt that we were experiencing, and I was documenting actually with the tape recorder, folk music in a transition point, and it really has turned out to be that way. That was an exciting time for Blue Grass music development, and there were only a few bands active with very country roots developing a new style right there in the ‘50s.”
From Mike Seeger’s notes to Stanley Series, Volume 1, Number 3, December 1983.
“It’s just like when you’re growing organic vegetables. You have to keep the soil good, feed the soil, to help nourish the musicians we owe a lot to and also increase the good growing of more music.”
Quoted by Bill Kramer in “Rockbridge Musician Wins $100,000 [sic] Cultural Grant,” The News Leader, Staunton, Virginia, February 21, 1995.
close