A toast to the New Lost City Ramblers

As our friend Barry Mazor reported this morning, Mike Seeger passed away last night from cancer at age 75. It was Mike's old band the New Lost City Ramblers who recorded the version of the Carter Family staple "No Depression In Heaven" that a young Jay Farrar later heard and decided to cover as the title track for his band Uncle Tupelo's debut album in 1990. One thing led to another and, well, you know the rest.

Thought maybe I'd find the NLCR version of the song on YouTube, but no luck. However, there's a really fine clip of Mike and his bandmates on his brother Pete's "Rainbow Quest" TV show, with Mike playing autoharp and singing another old song that also had a pretty significant rebirth many decades later. Here it is:

Views: 83

Comment by Rust Kings on August 11, 2009 at 8:33am
Both of my bands (Rust Kings and The Wild Rumpus) played shows with Mr. Seeger last year and he was a blast! Very funny and generous. We were at the Appalachian Stringband Festival on Thursday when NLCR was supposed to play and the word came that he was deathly ill. It had been a goal of mine to see them, unfulfilled, but playing shows with him was the next best thing. God Bless him.
Comment by UncleLijah on August 11, 2009 at 8:35am
I know members of this community sometimes have a problematic relationship with the Grateful Dead, but there is really no argument that the Dead helped introduce several generations of Americans to songs and styles of traditional American music that they might never have experienced otherwise. For that you can thank Mike Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers for they were Jerry Garcia's Beatles.
Comment by Steve White on August 11, 2009 at 10:40am
Mike Seeger was the bedrock upon which the entire Alt Country/ Americana music is built. It is irrelevant whether one is a Texas troubadour, a modern string band, a roots based jam band, or anyone else who relies on tradition to accent their sound. Wherever there are people playing roots based music, the owe a tip of the hat to Mike Seeger. He has left us a debt which we can never repay. But we can try by keeping this music alive forever. Happy trails.
Comment by timothy howard gibbons on August 11, 2009 at 2:10pm
Awwww Shit, R.I.P. Mike, Loved your style and your music.
Comment by Easy Ed on August 11, 2009 at 3:38pm
I always screw up my links when I post, so here's hoping I get this one right. I found Mike's last interview, and it's just amazing.

Comment by Easy Ed on August 11, 2009 at 3:41pm
Comment by Art Menius on August 11, 2009 at 8:02pm
Mike came by Appalshop in June with Alexia. They were in great spirits, fully engaged in the joy of his final field recording project, which focused on young players of string band music, especially those drawn to more traditional styles. I had no foreshadowing, as they headed down the stairs to exit through the Gallery, that I was saying goodbye to Mike for good. At the time, I was concerned for them because the creek they had to ford to get to George Gibson's house in Knott County was flooded. There they were recording George, Brett Ratliff, John Haywood, and maybe Matt Kinman and Jesse Wells. Mike was always generous to me with his time and encouragement. A lot of people have helped me along the way. He was among the most supportive.
Mike Seeger, Sandy Paton, Suzi Wollenberg, and others I did not no as well. It has been a cruel few weeks.
Comment by Grant Alden on August 14, 2009 at 3:11am
I hadn't known. One of the folk records I was raised on featured Mike and, I think, Peggy, made for children, 'twas. Or there was a series of them and we had several. Or something. But his is a voice from my dim childhood, regardless. I am far more saddened by his loss than by the passing of Les Paul, which I type to provoke nothing, simply to say that Mike Seeger ended up having rather more to do with my world than did Mr. Paul.
Comment by UncleLijah on August 14, 2009 at 9:16am
Disagree Grant. Les Paul laid the groundwork for all post-war music with the invention of multi-tracking and the electric guitar.
Comment by Murry Hammond on August 14, 2009 at 9:27am
When my dad became ill and passed away a few years ago, the only music that felt right or made any sense to me was the hard 'old-time', the rural folk stuff, that Mike documented and taught and generally championed his whole life. During that time I really became aware of what a quiet giant Mike Seeger was, as I was "running into him" at every turn in my explorations. I wonder if he had a sense of how significant his affect has been. Probably not, he was probably busy thinking about the next thing to be done for it. He belongs to the ages now, but I know I'll always be inspired by his example of what it is to have a "life's work", and to make every movement "count."


You need to be a member of No Depression Americana and Roots Music to add comments!

Join No Depression Americana and Roots Music


If you enjoy this site please consider helping us with a small donation!

Don't like PayPal? Mail a check to: No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

When you shop at Amazon please enter through this search box and No Depression receives a referral fee



Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.