Mike Seeger collection, 1955-2002.

Creator: Seeger, Mike, 1933-2009.
Collection number:
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Abstract: During the 1950s and 1960s, collector, folklorist, and traditional music performer Mike Seeger recorded interviews and performances of many legendary old-time and bluegrass musicians.The collection consists of open reel tape and DAT audio recordings from 1955 to 2002, along with supporting logs and films. The audio recordings include both live performances and Seeger’s interviews with many notable bluegrass and old-time musicians; master tapes from various LP recording projects; and recordings of Seeger’s own band, the New Lost City Ramblers. Of particular interest are live concert recordings featuring such musicians as Tony Alderman, E. C. Ball, Dock Boggs, Buzz Busby, Alex Campbell and Ola Belle Reed, Maybelle Carter, Elizabeth Cotten, Sady Courville, Cousin Emmy, Hazel Dickens, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Roscoe Holcomb, Mississippi John Hurt, Tommy Jarrell, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Grandpa Jones, the Lilly Brothers, the Louvin Brothers, Carl Martin and Ted Bogan, Dennis McGee, Sam McGee and Kirk McGee (the McGee Brothers), Bill Monroe and Charlie Monroe (the Monroe Brothers), the Osborne Brothers, Don Reno, Marc Savoy, Red Smiley, Kilby Snow, the Stanley Brothers, Ernest V. Stoneman, J. C. Sutphin, Merle Travis, Wade Ward, Mac Wiseman, and the New Lost City Ramblers. Also includied are recordings of various performances and workshops at festivals, including the American Old-Time Music Festival, the Bean Blossom Music Festival, and the Culpeper Music Festival. There are also recordings from the New Lost City Ramblers’ European tour with Adam Landrenau and Cyp Landrenau, Cousin Emmy, and the Stanley Brothers. Performances were recorded at large and small venues, including New River Ranch near Rising Sun, Md.; Sunset Park, Pa.; and the Union Grove Fiddlers Convention in North Carolina. Seeger recorded in-depth interviews with many musicians, including Clarence Tom Ashley, the Benfield Family, Dock Boggs, Charlie Bowman, Maybelle Carter, Tommy Jarrell, Kirk McGee, Sam McGee, Eck Robertson, Leslie Riddle, Kilby Snow, Ernest V. Stoneman, and Wade Ward. Of particular interest is Seeger’s interview with Columbia Records talent scout Frank Walker. Other New Lost City Ramblers recordings include raw tracks and master tapes for the group’s albums; live recordings at folk festivals, colleges, and other venues; and band meetings. Supporting documentation includes Seeger’s logs for all of the audio recordings and an artist index. The Addition of February 2003 contains films of Mike Seeger and other musicians, including films of an old-time music workshop in 1977 and an interview with Mike Seeger. The Addition of July 2009 contains audio recordings featuring many of the musicians already represented in the collection and others, including Eddie Adcock, Howard Armstrong, Kenny Baker, the Balfa Brothers, Dewey Balfa, Ted Bogan, Hylo Brown, Vassar Clements, Sady Courville, Kyle Creed, Bobby Durham, Flick Flaharty, Alice Gerrard, the Goins Brothers, Ted Gossett, Sarah Gunning, Bill Harrell, Doc Hopkins, Tommy Jarrell, Lily May Ledford, Tex Logan, Carl Martin, Jimmy Martin, Dennis McGee, Melvin Robinette, Montana Slim, Ralph Stanley, Carl Story, Tut Taylor, Doc Watson, Nimrod Workman, and others. The addition also contains recordings of Mike Seeger’s interviews with musicologist Charles Seeger. The Addition of May 2010 includes video footage from Seeger’s documentary project, “Talking Feet.”

Repository: Southern Folklife Collection

Collection Highlights: This collection features several recordings of African American artists, as well as discussions of interactions between white and black musicians.

There are live performances of folk singer Elizabeth Cotten [Audiotape FT-3754; FT-3756];  country blues singer Mississippi John Hurt (who was recorded in the 1930s, and rediscovered in the 1960s).

There are also recordings of African American Appalachian string musicians Carl Martin and Ted Bogan [Audiocassette FS-9655; 9656; 9658-60; 9689-90; 9694; 9696]

There are also a number of Caucasian musicians who describe being influenced by African American musical traditions, such as the Seeger’s own band the New Lost City Ramblers [See Series 1: Audio Recordings, 1955-2002] , as well as the Jim Kweskin Jug Band [Audiotape FT-5704].

There are also a number of interviews, including from Maybell Carter [Audiotape FT-8821], Clarence Tom Ashley [Audiotape FT-5582], and Dock Boggs [Several recordings, including Audiotape FT-5603 thru FT-5611] discussing the influence of African American musicians on their music.

Mike Seeger’s documentary “Talking Feet” is available online through the SFC on Folkstreams. Click here to access the film and see other documentaries.