Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Mike Seeger, June 23, 2007

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Interest in old time music

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Partial Transcript: I'm Fred Bartenstein and I'm talking to Mike Seeger in Owensboro, Kentucky on Saturday June 23rd, 2007.

Segment Synopsis: Mike Seeger is introduced. He talks about his interest in the "music of the people." He describes his house, including his many recordings and instruments and discusses how much music he gets to play on a typical day.

Keywords: "Man outside his time"; "Moldy fig"; Average day; CDs; Cassette tapes; Commercial music; Computers; Creativity; Houses; LPs; Music of the people; Old time music; Playing music; Radio broadcasting; Recordings; Sound collectors; South; Traditional music; Travel

Subjects: Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound--Recording and reproducing

00:05:18 - Family background and childhood during the Great Depression

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Partial Transcript: Speaking of born, where and when were you born Mike?

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about growing up in New York and Washington, D.C., among other places. He talks about what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression. He describes his parents and their interest in music, focusing on their classical training and their personal interest in traditional folk music. He discusses his family background on both sides and discusses his parents' general philosophies.

Keywords: 1933; Autoharps; Camping; Charles Louis Seeger Jr.; Coal; Cultural heritage; Culture; Education; Faculty; Fathers; Food; Government jobs; Great Depression; Guitar players; Guitars; Houses; Intellectuals; Liberals; Manhattan (N.Y.); Media; Mentality; Methodists; Mothers; New England; New York City (N.Y.); Old time music; Parents; Piano players; Pianos; Politically active; Preservation; Pride; Professors; Radicalized; Religion; Ruth Crawford Seeger; Seeger Jr., Charles Louis; Seeger, Ruth Crawford; Singing; Traditional folk songs; Traditional music; University of California; Value; Washington, D.C.; West Virginia; Western migration

Subjects: Childhood; Depressions--1929; Families.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound--Recording and reproducing

00:13:32 - Beginning to play music

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Partial Transcript: A, as you were growing up, let's say in the first ten years of your life, 1933 to 1943, describe the inhabitants of your household.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about beginning to play music with his sister and talks about the other members of his family who were interested in music, including his half brother Pete Seeger. He talks about his parents' field recordings as an early influence on his interest in traditional music. He talks about his disinterest in school. He talks about the first instruments he played, and about taking lessons from jazz musician Charlie Bird. He talks about playing in a square dance band to improve his timing.

Keywords: 1952; Autoharps; Banjo players; Banjos; Byrd, Charlie (Artist); Cactus needles; Charles Louis Seeger Jr.; Charles Seeger III; Charlie Byrd (Artist); Colleges; Cotten, Elizabeth (Artist); Dulcimers; Effects; Elizabeth Cotten (Artist); Fathers; Field recordings; Freedom; George Washington University; Guitar players; Guitars; Half brothers; Inspiration; Jamming; John Seeger; Mothers; Music lessons; Music students; Old time music; Parents; Peggy Seeger (Artist); Pete Seeger (Artist); Playing music; Private schools; Reading music; Ruth Crawford Seeger; Schools; Seeger III, Charles; Seeger Jr., Charles Louis; Seeger, John; Seeger, Peggy (Artist); Seeger, Pete (Artist); Seeger, Ruth Crawford; Singing; Sisters; Square dance bands; Timing; Traditional music; Traditional musicians; Training; Value; Vermont

Subjects: Childhood; Education; Families.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Records.; Sound recordings.; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Square dance music.

00:24:30 - Introduction to Bluegrass music

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Partial Transcript: Now this is also the time of the Korean War. Was the draft on?

Segment Synopsis: Seeger discusses his process of becoming a conscientious objector during the Korean War which led to his employment at a tuberculosis sanatorium where he met Hazel Dickens' brother, Robert Dickens. He talks about his introduction to Bluegrass music and some of the artists who influenced him.

Keywords: Alternative service; Boarding schools; Brothers; C.O. status; Conscientious objector status; Conscientious objectors; Dick Spottswood; Dickens, Hazel (Artist); Dickens, Robert (Artist); Don Owens (Artist); Earl Scruggs (Artist); Everett Lilly (Artist); Flatt & Scruggs (Artist); Flatt and Scruggs (Artist); Hazel Dickens (Artist); Hearings; Lilly, Everett (Artist); Military drafts; Mount Wilson State Hospital; Old time music; Owens, Don (Artist); Pacifists; Pete Seeger (Artist); Radio broadcasting; Radio stations; Richard K. "Dick" Spottswood; Robert Dickens (Artist); Scruggs, Earl (Artist); Seeger, Pete (Artist); Selective Service board; Spottswood, Dick; Spottswood, Richard K. "Dick"; TB sanatoriums; Tuberculosis sanatoriums; WSM (Radio station); World War II

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Korean War, 1950-1953; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

00:31:04 - Playing Bluegrass music

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Partial Transcript: And so did you begin to conceive of yourself as a Bluegrass musician?

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about when he began to play Bluegrass music himself. He talks about some of the musicians he played with, including Elizabeth Cotten, his sister Peggy Seeger, and Blackie Morgan, among others. He talks about the difficulty of finding places to play and practice.

Keywords: Acceptance; African Americans; Autoharps; Band members; Black, Bob (Artist); Black, Robert (Artist); Blackie Morgan (Artist); Bluegrass bands; Bob Black (Artist); Case, Ralph (Artist); Cotten, Elizabeth (Artist); Dickens, Hazel (Artist); Dickens, Robert (Artist); Electric instruments; Elizabeth Cotten (Artist); Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman (Artist); Exclusion; Fellow musicians; Guitar players; Guitars; Hazel Dickens (Artist); Houses; Huddie William "Lead Belly" Ledbetter (Artist); Justice, Mac (Artist); Kicked out; Kuykendall, Pete; Ledbetter, Huddie William "Lead Belly" (Artist); Loud; Mac Justice (Artist); Morgan, Blackie (Artist); Musical styles; Noise; Old time music; Old time sounds; Peggy Seeger (Artist); Pete Kuykendall; Playing music; Police; Ralph Case (Artist); Richard K. "Dick" Spottswood; Robert Black (Artist); Robert Dickens (Artist); Seeger, Peggy (Artist); Sisters; Sound; Spottswood, Richard K. "Dick"; Square dance bands; Stoneman Family (Artist); Stoneman, Ernest V. “Pop” (Artist); String music; Television; Value; Washtub bass; Working class

Subjects: African American musicians; Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Square dance music.; String band music.

00:41:33 - Radio school

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Partial Transcript: Am, am I mistaken or didn't you at some point in here go to electronics school? Or recording?

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about his decision to go to radio school and his goal at the time of moving to Galax, Virginia and supporting himself with a job at a radio station. He talks about briefly working for Capitol Transcriptions before joining the New Lost City Ramblers.

Keywords: Capitol Transcriptions; DJs; Deejays; Disc jockeys; Galax (Va.); Goals; Kuykendall, Pete; Musicology; New Lost City Ramblers (Artist); Pete Kuykendall; Radio schools; Reading; Recording studios; Technical schools; WASA (Radio station); Washington, D.C.; Westinghouse Broadcasting

Subjects: Bluegrass music.; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Musical groups.; Musicians; Old-time music.; Radio stations.; Sound engineers; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Washington (D.C.)

00:45:56 - Recordings as a performer

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Partial Transcript: Now before we get to you on--at the board, let's spend a moment or two talking about some recordings you made in the 1950s as a performer.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about some of the recordings that exist of him as a performer, including his work with Bill Clifton, his work on "American banjo Scruggs Style," and recordings with Tex Logan, among others. He briefly mentions his work producing an album for The Country Gentlemen.

Keywords: "Fiddling" Tex Logan (Artist); 1957; 1958; Albums; Autoharps; Banjo players; Banjos; Bill Clifton (Artist); Clifton, Bill (Artist); Country Gentlemen, the (Artist); Cripple Creek (Song); Eclectic interests; Friendships; Guitar players; Guitars; Holston Valley Breakdown (Song); Kuykendall, Pete; Logan, “Fiddling” Tex (Artist); Mountain Music Bluegrass Style (Album); Musical styles; Old time music; Peggy Seeger (Artist); Performers; Pete Kuykendall; Producers; Producing; Progressive; Recording studios; Records; Scruggs style (banjo); Seeger, Peggy (Artist); Songbooks; Sound; Style; The Country Gentlemen (Artist); Wives

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

00:51:05 - Fieldwork recordings--"American Banjo Scruggs Style"

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Partial Transcript: Well, le--we've now--we're moving now into the next chapter which is your fieldwork and recordings.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about his work recording songs for the album "American Banjo Scruggs Style." He talks about some of the artists on that album, his philosophy and goal in recording it, and some of the financial aspects of its creation. He discusses the possibly misleading title of the album, since Earl Scruggs himself is not on the album.

Keywords: American Banjo - Tunes and Songs in Scruggs Style (Album); American Banjo Scruggs Style (Album); American Banjo: Three-Finger and Scruggs Style (Album); Artists; Asch, Moses; Banjo players; Banjos; Budgets; CDs; Clawhammer banjo style; Contracts; Dickens, Hazel (Artist); Documentary; Documentation; Don Reno (Artist); Earl Scruggs (Artist); Field recordings; Finances; Folkways Records; Grayson, Shannon (Artist); Hazel Dickens (Artist); Imitation; Jenkins, Snuffy (Artist); Junie Scruggs (Artist); Kuykendall, Pete; LPs; Misleading; Moses Asch; Musical styles; Names; Notoriety; Old time music; Pete Kuykendall; Pete Seeger (Artist); Preservation; Preserving; Producers; Producing; Releases; Reno, Don (Artist); Revisions; Roger Sprung (Artist); Roots; Scruggs style (banjo); Scruggs, Earl (Artist); Scruggs, Junie (Artist); Seeger, Pete (Artist); Shannon Grayson (Artist); Smithsonian Folkways; Snuffy Jenkins (Artist); Sound; Sprung, Roger (Artist); Style; Terms; Three ­finger banjo style; Titles; Traditional music; Traditional style; Versions

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

01:00:09 - Fieldwork recordings--Other Folkways Records recordings

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Partial Transcript: So now you have a relationship with Folkways.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about some of the other documentary recordings he made for Folkways Records, including J.C. and Vernon Sutphin, Louise Foreacre, and Elizabeth Cotten, among others. He talks specifically about the album "Mountain Music Bluegrass Style" and the various musicians recorded for it.

Keywords: Anthony, Donald Lee "Chubby" (Artist); Asch, Moses; Banjos; Bea Lilly (Artist); Bob Baker and the Pike County Boys (Artist); Budgets; Cotten, Elizabeth (Artist); Documentary recordings; Documentation; Don Stover (Artist); Donald Lee "Chubby" Anthony (Artist); Duffey, John (Artist); Earl Taylor (Artist); Elizabeth Cotten (Artist); Elmer Pegdon (Artist); Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman (Artist); Everett Lilly (Artist); Finances; Folkways Records; Foricker, Louise (Artist); Harmonicas; Hensley, Walter (Artist); Hutchins, Sam "Porky" (Artist); J.C. Sutphin (Artist); John Duffey (Artist); Kuykendall, Pete; Lilly, Bea (Artist); Lilly, Everett (Artist); Louise Foricker (Artist); Mandolins; Moses Asch; Mountain Music Bluegrass Style (Album); Old time music; Pegdon, Elmer (Artist); Pete Kuykendall; Relationships; Sam "Porky" Hutchins (Artist); Smithsonian Folkways; Stoneman, Ernest V. “Pop” (Artist); Stover, Don (Artist); Sutphin, J.C. (Artist); Sutphin, Vernon (Artist); Taylor, Earl (Artist); Traditional music; Vernon Sutphin (Artist); Walter Hensley (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Washington (D.C.)

01:04:45 - Fieldwork recordings--The Country Gentlemen

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Partial Transcript: And you were about to say the antidote to "Mountain Music Bluegrass Style."

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about his philosophy of recording the Country Gentlemen as a progressive balance to his recording of the more traditional "Mountain Music Bluegrass Style." He talks about who was in the band when he first saw them and discusses some of their influences. He briefly mentions some of the other recordings he did at this time.

Keywords: 1957; 1961; Adcock, Eddie (Artist); Autoharps; Balance; Bill Emerson (Artist); Busby, Buzz (Artist); Buzz Busby (Artist); Charlie Waller (Artist); Country Gentlemen, the (Artist); Cox, Jim (Artist); Duffey, John (Artist); Eddie Adcock (Artist); Emerson, Bill (Artist); Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman (Artist); Frizzell, Lefty (Artist); Frizzell, William Orville "Lefty" (Artist); Gray, Tom (Artist); Influences; Jim Cox (Artist); John Duffey (Artist); Kilby Snow (Artist); LPs; Lahey, Larry (Artist); Larry Lahey (Artist); Lefty Frizzell (Artist); Long Black Veil (Song); Mountain Music Bluegrass Style (Album); Nashville (Tenn.); Old time music; Osborne Brothers (Artist); Progressive; Progressive bluegrass movement; Ray Ward (Artist); Singles; Snow, Kilby (Artist); Starday Records; Stoneman, Ernest V. “Pop” (Artist); The Country Gentlemen (Artist); Tom Gray (Artist); Urban labels; Waller, Charlie (Artist); Ward, Ray (Artist); William Orville "Lefty" Frizzell (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

01:11:58 - Fieldwork recordings--Live performances

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Partial Transcript: I don't think, Mike, anyone has originated more recordings of early live performances than you.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about the process of recording live performances, including gaining permission from venue owners and the performers, the type of equipment he used, and his philosophy behind deciding what to record and what not record.

Keywords: Alec Campbell; Bill Monroe (Artist); Breaks, musical; Budgets; Campbell, Alec; Carter Stanley (Artist); Clear, Lindy (Artist); Comedy; Comedy in bluegrass music; Commercial recordings; Copyright; Country music parks; Cousin Jake Tullock (Artist); Don Reno (Artist); Earl Scruggs (Artist); Finances; Financing; Graves, Uncle Josh Burkett “Buck” (Artist); Half track tape recorders; Improvisation; Improvising; Library of Congress; Lindy Clear (Artist); Live music; Live performances; Live recording; Microphones, omnidirectional; Mixers; Mono; Monroe, Bill (Artist); New River Ranch (Venue); Old time music; Omnidirectional electrovoice microphones; Omnidirectional microphones; Performers; Permission; Property; Recorder (models); Red Smiley (Artist); Reno, Don (Artist); Rights; Routines; Scruggs, Earl (Artist); Set up; Smiley, Red (Artist); Speakers; Stanley, Carter (Artist); Stereo; Talking; Traditional music; Tullock, Cousin Jake (Artist); Uncle Josh Burkett “Buck” Graves (Artist); University of North Carolina

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--Equipment and supplies

01:18:25 - Fieldwork recordings--His peers / The Newport Folk Festival

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Partial Transcript: Now you had a few peers in this work and I'm--I expect they became your friends and companions...

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about some of his friends and peers in the traditional music recording field. He talks about how he became a member of the Newport Folk Festival board and discusses their decisions regarding which performers they chose. He talks about the end of the Newport Folk Festival and also discusses the first Bluegrass festival.

Keywords: Accessible; Advocating; Alan Lomax (Artist); Artists; Bill Clifton (Artist); Bill Monroe (Artist); Board members; Carnegie Hall; Clifton, Bill (Artist); Country Gentlemen, the (Artist); Earl Scruggs (Artist); Earl Taylor (Artist); Explaining; Fincastle Festival; Friendships; Kuykendall, Pete; Learning disabilities; Lomax, Alan (Artist); Monroe, Bill (Artist); Newport Folk Festival; Old time music; Peers; Performers; Pete Kuykendall; Philosophy; Political; Ralph Rinzler (Artist); Relationships; Rinzler, Ralph (Artist); Riots; Scruggs, Earl (Artist); Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys, the (Artist); Taylor, Earl (Artist); The Country Gentlemen (Artist); The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys (Artist); Workshops; Writing

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass festivals; Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

01:26:44 - Employment / New Lost City Ramblers

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Partial Transcript: Let's go--because other than your jobs at the VA hospital and at the recording--

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about his days jobs and his decision to quit his job to pursue music full-time with the New Lost City Ramblers. He talks about the formation of the New Lost City Ramblers, describes their shows, and talks about touring with their families. He talks about the types of audiences they did and did not play for. He talks about recordings of the New Lost City Ramblers.

Keywords: "Tawdry"; 1958; 1960; Advocates; Arthel "Doc" Watson (Artist); Asch, Moses; Ash Grove (Los Angeles, Calif.); Audiences; Availability; Bars; Booking agencies; Booking agents; California; Children; Community; Concerts; Cowan, John (Artist); Cultures; Day jobs; Employment; Family; Finances; Folkways Records; Followers; Friends; Gigs; Homeless; Impact; Inclusion; John Cowan (Artist); Kingston Trio (Artist); LPs; Legacy; Lifestyles; Money; Moses Asch; Musical styles; New Lost City Ramblers (Artist); Newport Folk Festival; Old­ time music; Paley, Tom (Artist); Pop music; Practice; Practicing (Music); Professional musicians; Radio programs; Repertoire; Revivals; Rock festivals; Schwarz, Tracy (Artist); Shows; Smithsonian Folkways; Solo artists; Songs; Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys, the (Artist); The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys (Artist); Tom Paley (Artist); Touring; Tours; Tracy Schwarz (Artist); Traditional music; Travel; Universities; Venues; Watson, Arthel “Doc” (Artist); Wives; Young Audiences

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass festivals; Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

01:43:48 - Solo work / Strange Creek Singers

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Partial Transcript: The--you said that in the seventies, you decided--the New Lost City Ramblers decided to take a hiatus...

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about his lack of focus on his work as a solo artist until a later time and discusses some of his projects, like "The Second Annual Farewell Reunion" album. He talks about how the Strange Creek Singers was his dream group and talks about their tours and shows.

Keywords: "Fiddling" Tex Logan (Artist); 1979; Alice Gerrard (Artist); Concentration; Concerts; Cotten, Elizabeth (Artist); Dickens, Hazel (Artist); Don Stover (Artist); Elizabeth Cotten (Artist); Eric Thompson (Artist); Europe; Gerrard, Alice (Artist); Gigs; Grier, Lamar (Artist); Hazel Dickens (Artist); Kill The Shanghai Rooster (Song); LPs; Lamar Grier (Artist); Logan, “Fiddling” Tex (Artist); Mandolin players; Mandolins; Mercury Records; Musical styles; New Lost City Ramblers (Artist); New World Records; Old Regular Baptist; Old time music; Performing; Producers; Producing; Schwarz, Tracy (Artist); Shows; Solo artists; Stover, Don (Artist); Strange Creek Singers (Artist); The Second Annual Farewell Reunion (Album); Thompson, Eric (Artist); Touring; Tours; Tracy Schwarz (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

01:48:33 - His current role

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Partial Transcript: How do you conceive of your role and purpose today?

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about what he sees as his current role, recording traditional sounds and early American music. He talks about his unfinished projects, his correspondence with contemporaries and fans, and his stance on interviews.

Keywords: Archives; Audiences; Concerts; Correspondence; Early American music; Field recordings; Field tapes; Fieldwork recordings; Folkways Records; Gigs; Guitar players; Guitars; Interviews; Old time music; Osborne Brothers (Artist); Privacy; Purpose; Record labels; Roles; Shows; Smithsonian Folkways; Solo artists; Southern; Traditional music; Traditional sounds; Underrepresented; Unfinished projects

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

01:53:44 - Historical influences on current Bluegrass music

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Partial Transcript: Um, Mike, I wanted, if we could, to capture just a few more things in our time together.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger discusses some of the musical and historical elements that have impacted Bluegrass music and shaped it into what it is today. He mentions African, European, and African American culture; the American South; various instruments and musicians; and many other types of music that influenced Bluegrass.

Keywords: Ballads; Banjo players; Banjos; Bass players; Bassists; Bill Monroe (Artist); Blues; Bowed instruments; Breakdowns; Brother duet style; Carter Family (Artist); Carter, Maybelle (Artist); Cello; Cultures; Dobro players; Dobros; Elements; Ensemble sound; Ensembles; Fiddle players; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Guitar players; Guitars; Harmony; Hawaii; Hawaiian music; Influences; Instrumental styles; Jefferson, Lemon Henry "Blind Lemon" (Artist); Lemon Henry "Blind Lemon" Jefferson (Artist); Lyric styles; Mandolin players; Mandolins; Maybelle Carter (Artist); Melody; Minstrel music; Mixtures; Monroe, Bill (Artist); Musical styles; Old time music; Out of meter style; Pop music; Sacred music; Sharing; Singing styles; Slavery; Slaves; Sound; Southern; String bands; Style; Swing music; Timing; Vernacular styles; Victorian parlor songs; Violins; Vocal styles; Working class

Subjects: African American musicians; African Americans; Africans.; Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Africa.; Music--African American influences.; Music--African influences.; Music--Europe.; Music--European influences.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; String band music.

02:09:54 - Ralph Rinzler's impact on Bill Monroe's career

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Partial Transcript: Tell us about how Ralph Rinzler worked with you and Bill Monroe on advancing Bill Monroe's career or conception of himself.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger tells the story of Ralph Rinzler's outrage that Bill Monroe was not being recognized as one of the founders of Bluegrass. He talks about why Monroe was reluctant to trust him and Rinzler initially, and how they eventually won him over with the help of Carter Stanley and Bessie Lee Mauldin. He talks about Rinzler's impact on the preservation of Bluegrass and traditional music history.

Keywords: 1961; Advice; Alice Gerrard (Artist); Articles; Bessie Lee Mauldin (Artist); Bill Monroe (Artist); Bluegrass festivals; Careers; Carter Stanley (Artist); Convincing; Discussions; Documentary; Documentation; Documenting; Earl Scruggs (Artist); Flatt and Scruggs (Artist); Flatt, Lester (Artist); Folkways Records; Founders; Friendships; Gerrard, Alice (Artist); Grand Ole Opry (Radio program); Interviews; Lester Flatt (Artist); Mauldin, Bessie Lee (Artist); Monroe, Bill (Artist); Music festivals; Old time music; Originators; Persuasion; Ralph Rinzler (Artist); Ralph Stanley (Artist); Relationships; Respect; Rinzler, Ralph (Artist); Scruggs, Earl (Artist); Sing Out magazine; Smithsonian Folkways; Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys, the (Artist); Stanley, Carter (Artist); Stanley, Ralph (Artist); Sunset Park; The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys (Artist); Underappreciated

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

02:20:20 - Tex Logan

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Partial Transcript: Now speaking of, of smart songwriters who could influence Bill Monroe that you know well: Tex Logan.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about meeting and recording with Tex Logan. He talks about their friendship, as well as Logan's friendship with Bill Monroe.

Keywords: "Fiddling" Tex Logan (Artist); Acoustics; Bell Laboratories; Bill Monroe (Artist); Bonding; Cooper, Stoney (Artist); Cooper, Wilma Lee (Artist); Fiddle players; Fiddle styles; Fiddlers; Fiddles; Friendships; Influences; Kuykendall, Pete; Logan, “Fiddling” Tex (Artist); Monroe, Bill (Artist); Old time music; Personality; Pete Kuykendall; Recording studios; Relationships; Scientists; Speed; Stoney Cooper (Artist); Tempo; Three ­finger banjo style; Timing; Wilma Lee Cooper (Artist)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

02:23:54 - Carter Stanley

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Partial Transcript: You were starting to say Carter Stanley.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about Carter Stanley as a singer and tells a story about visiting with Stanley outside of a radio station.

Keywords: Carter Family (Artist); Carter Stanley (Artist); Family; Friendships; Old time music; Ralph Stanley (Artist); Relationships; Singing; Stanley, Carter (Artist); Stanley, Ralph (Artist); Subtle; Visiting; Vocalists (singers); Vocals; Wives

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Radio stations.

02:26:37 - Sara Carter

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Partial Transcript: Um, other artists.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about meeting Sara Carter in California and describes her personality. He talks about her awareness of her significance.

Keywords: Attitudes; Awareness; California; Carter Family (Artist); Carter, Sara (Artist); Laid back; Old time music; Personality; Reflections; Sara Carter (Artist); Significance; Songwriting

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

02:29:10 - Mother Maybelle Carter

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Maybelle was somewhat the same way.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger describes meeting and touring with Maybelle Carter. He talks about her personality and her desire to be 'just one of the people.'

Keywords: "Mother" Maybelle Carter (Artist); Acceptance; Attitudes; Carter, "Mother" Maybelle (Artist); Carter, Maybelle (Artist); Driving; Importance; Maybelle Carter (Artist); New Lost City Ramblers (Artist); Old time music; Personality; Rehearsals; Respect; Roles; Significance; Touring; Tours; Tucson (Ariz.)

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

02:34:20 - Cousin Emmy

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Partial Transcript: I, I'll tell you somebody who might--you, you--I, I'm sure you could tell an interesting story about, uh: Cousin Emmy.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about meeting and touring with Cousin Emmy in Europe and the conflict with Carter Stanley.

Keywords: Attitudes; Carter Stanley (Artist); Carver, Cynthia May "Cousin Emmy" (Artist); Carver, Cynthia May (Artist); Concerts; Control; Cynthia May "Cousin Emmy" Carver (Artist); Cynthia May Carver (Artist); Europe; Fiery; Gigs; Men; Old time music; Personality; Shows; Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys, the (Artist); Stanley, Carter (Artist); The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys (Artist); Touring; Tours; Women

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

02:37:02 - Flatt & Scruggs

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Partial Transcript: Mike, is there anyone else on that list that you want to evoke?

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about visiting Earl Scruggs and Scruggs taking them for a flight in his personal plane. He talks about touring with Flatt and Scruggs, including them answering fan mail, playing at a schoolhouse, and the types of audiences they were playing for at the time.

Keywords: 1961; Airplanes; Audiences; Buses; Concerts; Cowan, John (Artist); Earl Scruggs (Artist); Fan mail; Flatt and Scruggs (Artist); Flying; Gigs; Gospel music; Grand Ole Opry (Radio program); Graves, Uncle Josh Burkett “Buck” (Artist); Great Depression; John Cowan (Artist); Joking; Landings; Nashville (Tenn.); Old time music; Portable stages; Schedules; Schoolhouses; Scruggs, Earl (Artist); Shows; Uncle Josh Burkett “Buck” Graves (Artist); Visiting

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Depressions--1929; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

02:42:18 - Current popularity of old time music

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Partial Transcript: Now you've been very generous with your time and in fact we're s--we're in overtime from what we negotiated...

Segment Synopsis: Seeger discusses the current popularity of old time music, especially with younger demographics. He mentions his role as a collector of traditional music.

Keywords: Careers; Collections; Foghorn String Band (Artist); Growth; Interest; Jobs; Old time music; Part-time musicians; Popularity; Preservation; Roles; Social; Younger audiences; Younger demographics

Subjects: Bands (Music); Bluegrass music.; Bluegrass musicians; Country music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--Performance.; Musical groups.; Musical instruments.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Sound recordings.; Sound studios; Sound--Recording and reproducing

02:46:47 - History of music in 17th century America

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Partial Transcript: Well, I thought maybe the best thing to do would just to be to talk about what music would have been like when the first settlers or "unsettlers" came to this country back in the seventeenth century.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger describes the types of music and musical instruments brought to America by the European settlers and the people they enslaved who were brought from Africa, as well as the indigenous people who already lived on the land. He talks about how much early music was vocal-based due to the cost and lack of accessibility of instruments. He describes and demonstrates some of the instruments that were available at the time, including gourd banjos, panpipes, and more.

Keywords: 17th century; Africa; Africans; American Indians; Ballads; Banjos; Cultures; Dancing; Europeans; Fiddles; Flutes; Homemade instruments; Immigrants; Indigenous peoples; Instrument-making; Irish; Jaw harp; Jew's Harp; Making instruments; Mouth harp; Native Americans; Open tuning; Pan flutes; Panpipes; Settlers; Seventeenth century; Violins; Vocals; Working people's music

Subjects: Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

02:56:03 - Evolution of the banjo

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Partial Transcript: When the, uh, Africans came over here we don't know how soon the banjo came to this country.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger describes the evolution of the banjo from early gourd banjos in Africa to the instrument used today. He demonstrates several types of these early banjos, showing the difference in sounds. He talks about the types of materials used to make each banjo and discusses the industrialization of banjo-making.

Keywords: 1800s; Africa; African Americans; Africans; Changes; Chords; Costs; Development; Evolution; Farming; Frets; Gourd banjos; Gourds; Gut strings; Homemade instruments; Industrialization; Instrument-making; Making instruments; Manufacturing; Necks; Pegs; Peter Ross; Picking; Playing styles; Resonator banjos; Skins; Sound; South; Steel strings; Strings; Tackhead banjos; Tone

Subjects: Banjo music (Bluegrass); Banjo music.; Bluegrass music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:09:39 - Evolution of the guitar

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Partial Transcript: Well, along with the, um, the coming of the industrialization of the banjo, there was the industrialization of the guitar too.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger discusses the evolution of the guitar and demonstrates an early American guitar like that which would have been used by Maybelle Carter or Mississippi John Hurt. He demonstrates several different playing styles on the guitar.

Keywords: "Country people"; 1850; 1900; African Americans; America; Blues; Carter, Maybelle (Artist); Costs; Cotten, Elizabeth (Artist); Development; Elizabeth Cotten (Artist); Europe; Evolution; Finger picking; Gibson guitars; Homemade instruments; Hurt, Mississippi John (Artist); Industrialization; Instrument-making; Making instruments; Manufacturing; Maybelle Carter (Artist); Mississippi John Hurt (Artist); Playing styles; Settlers

Subjects: Folk music.; Folk songs.; Guitar music (Bluegrass); Guitar music.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:15:20 - Mandolin

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Partial Transcript: Somehow in the late, uh--(clear throat)--nineteenth century, they, uh--the Italian mandolin players toured the United States.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about the mandolins brought to America by touring Italian musicians. He discusses the difference between a round hole and a f-hole in the sound the instrument makes.

Keywords: Bill Monroe (Artist); F-holes; Flat picks; Gibson mandolins; Italian; Mandolin players; Mandolins; Monroe, Bill (Artist); Picking; Picks; Round holes

Subjects: Bluegrass music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:17:44 - Autoharp

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Partial Transcript: Thought I'd open up the autoharp case here, Joe.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about when the autoharp began to be manufactured. He demonstrates playing styles on the instrument.

Keywords: 1840; 1850; 1880; Autoharps; Carter, Maybelle (Artist); Chords; Industrialists; Kilby Snow (Artist); Manufacturing; Maybelle Carter (Artist); Melodic; Modified; Mountains; Picks; Playing styles; Snow, Kilby (Artist); Southern style

Subjects: Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:21:07 - Ukulele and banjo ukulele

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Partial Transcript: Another thing that the music instrument makers--the industrial makers did, they, uh--Hawaiian music was very popular in the 1910s.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about the popularity of Hawaiian music in the 1910s that led to the increased manufacturing of ukuleles and banjo ukuleles. He demonstrates the sound of the banjo ukulele.

Keywords: 1900s; 1910s; 1930s; Accessible; Banjo ukuleles; Chords; Costs; Easy; Finger picking; Hawaiian music; Homemade instruments; Industrialization; Instrument-making; Making instruments; Rhythm; Ukuleles

Subjects: Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:23:53 - Hawaiian guitar

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Partial Transcript: And along with the ukulele came the Hawaiian guitar.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about the popularity of Hawaiian music in the 1910s that led to the increased manufacturing of Hawaiian guitars and talks about how it became a popular lead instrument in country music, taking over for fiddles. He demonstrates the Hawaiian guitar.

Keywords: 1930s; 1940s; Country music; Fiddles; Hawaiian music; Hawaiian style; Homemade instruments; Instrument-making; Lead instruments; Making instruments; Slide guitars

Subjects: Folk music.; Folk songs.; Guitar music (Bluegrass); Guitar music.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:27:32 - Innovation in stringed instruments

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Partial Transcript: Another, uh, guitar, uh, innovation from the 1920s was this one I'll show you in just a minute.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about the innovation among instrument-makers in the early days of America and how he sees the trend becoming more popular again today,

Keywords: 1920s; Development; Europe; Evolution; Homemade instruments; Innovation; Instrument-making; Making instruments; Mandolins; Stringed instruments; Strings; Ukuleles; Variety

Subjects: Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:29:05 - Resonator guitar

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Partial Transcript: This was probably somewhere around 1930 or so.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger discusses the development of resonator instruments, which came out of the need for louder instruments for public shows before the invention of sound systems.

Keywords: Hawaiian music; Homemade instruments; Instrument-making; Louder; Making instruments; Pedals; Resonator guitars; Resophonics; Sound; Tone; Tuning

Subjects: Folk music.; Folk songs.; Guitar music (Bluegrass); Guitar music.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:32:01 - Evolution of instruments / Banjo guitar

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Partial Transcript: Okay.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks more about the development of instruments as a collaboration between musicians and instrument-makers. He talks about the development of the banjo guitar.

Keywords: 1915; Banjo guitars; Coordinator rods; Development; Entrepreneurs; Evolution; Gibson Company; Guitar players; Homemade instruments; Ideas; Instrument-making; Loudness; Making instruments; Resophonics; Street musicians

Subjects: Banjo music (Bluegrass); Banjo music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Guitar music (Bluegrass); Guitar music.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:37:55 - The influence of radio and microphones on bluegrass music

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Partial Transcript: Well, you were asking about how radio, uh, might have influenced bluegrass.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger discusses how radio and microphones changed bluegrass music. He talks about some of the possible musical influences on bluegrass music made possible by the radio.

Keywords: "Ethnic music"; Barn dances; Bill Monroe (Artist); Charlie Monroe (Artist); Charlie Poole (Artist); Chicago (Ill.); Country music; Development; Dissemination; Eck Robertson (Artist); Evolution; Fast; Influences; Kentucky; Loudness; Microphones; Monroe, Bill (Artist); Monroe, Charlie (Artist); Parlor music; Poole, Charlie (Artist); Robertson, Eck (Artist); Sally Goodin (Song); Swing music; Tempo; Vocalists; Volume

Subjects: Bluegrass music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.; Radio programs.; Radio stations.

03:41:49 - Dulcimer

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Partial Transcript: Well--(blows air)--(laughs)--you gotta get the hair off of it.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about the creation of the dulcimer and gives a demonstration of the instrument.

Keywords: Dulcimers; Europeans; Homemade instruments; Instrument-making; Making instruments; Mountains; Nathan Hicks; Steel strings; Turkey feathers

Subjects: Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.

03:45:17 - Harmonica

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Partial Transcript: Starting in the mid- or late, uh, nineteenth century, this little harmonica here, uh, became one of the most widely-used, uh, instruments.

Segment Synopsis: Seeger talks about the manufacturing of the harmonica and gives a demonstration of the many different types of sounds and music that can be made with the instrument. He mentions the rare use of the harmonica in bluegrass music. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Chords; Costs; Development; Earl Taylor (Artist); Evolution; Factories; Flatt and Scruggs (Artist); French harps; Germany; Harmonicas; Homemade instruments; Industrialization; Instrument-making; Jimmy Martin (Artist); Keys; Making instruments; Martin, Jimmy (Artist); Mouth harps; Taylor, Earl (Artist)

Subjects: Bluegrass music.; Folk music.; Folk songs.; Music--America.; Music--Performance.; Music--United States.; Music.; Musical ability.; Musical instrument makers.; Musical instruments.; Musical inventions and patents.; Musical performance; Musicians; Old-time music.