Lexington, VA (August 8, 2009) – Alexia Smith, wife of folklorist and roots music preservationist Mike Seeger, has informed the Rockbridge Community that Mike died peacefully at his home on Enfield Road the evening of August 7th about 9 p.m. Seeger was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and decided to forego further treatment and entered hospice care. He was surrounded by family and friends during his last days as he wished. Seeger was 75 years old. According to the family, further information about arrangements will be forthcoming on Monday, August 10th.
Seeger contributed his musical talent and knowledge of Southern traditional roots music to the community in Rockbridge since moving here about 20 years ago. Throughout his career and while living in Rockbridge he pursued many projects to preserve traditional southern roots music and dance. Most notable are his recordings of roots music for the Smithsonian with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Locally, he was the main impetus in the creation The Rockbridge Mountain Music and Dance Festival, a music festival by and for musicians in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, in Rockbridge Countyin 1986 and encouraged Bruce Clark to found Clark’s Ole Time Music Center, also in Rockbridge County. Seeger also performed locally at festivals and events, sharing his talent and knowledge of Southern roots music with the community.
Word about his death has quickly spread throughout the bluegrass and roots music community and been posted on various roots and bluegrass music websites. A compilation of his recordings and achievements can be found on the NPR website at www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111693752.
The following obituary, written by Bob Cherry on August 8, 2009, is from CYBERGRASS The Internet Bluegrass Music News Magazine ww.cybergrass.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=6622:
“Mike Seeger lost his battle with cancer last night, August 7, 2009. Back on Thursday, July 30, Mary Katherine Adlin at Folklore Productions informed us that Mike Seeger, one of the founding members of the New Lost City Ramblers, and the half-brother of folk singer Pete Seeger, had been battling leukemia for several years; just recently he was diagnosed with a new and very aggressive form of cancer, called multiple myeloma. In the same forthright way that he has lived his life, he made the decision to discontinue treatment and enter hospice care. Last night, August 7, his battle ended. Mike died in hospice care at his home in Virginia, surrounded by the loving care of his wife, his sons and his sister. He was at peace and not in pain.
“Just a few days ago, we wrote about The New Lost City Ramblers DVD video. This is sad news to follow that happy release announcement. Mike Seeger and The New Lost City Ramblers captured the essence of old music from early 78 records and spend decades performing the traditional music in the traditional way thus preserving it for many generations.
“During the ’60s folk movement, Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers were one of the most influential bands going. Scores of new bands picked up on what they were doing and pushed the music into the public’s eye. Seeger was both a musician and a historian devoted to preserving the music he loved.
“Seeger was a folk musician who was also accomplished on multiple instruments. He performed playing the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, dobro, and other instruments. Seeger’s love for the old time music resulted in a half dozen Grammy® nominations, four NEA grants and numerous other awards.
“Just as he set his own path musically, he chose his own path for his final journey as well. May God be with him.
“Mike is survived by his wife Alexia. Condolences may be sent to:
1671 Appian Way
Santa Monica, CA 90401
A performance by Mike Seeger at The Kennedy Center can be seen at www.kennedy-center.org/programs/millennium/artist_detail.cfm?artist_id=SEEGERMIKE