Half-brother to Pete, brother to Peggy and father to that great barbaric American yawp, folk music, Mike Seeger was born to money and academia in a household filled with nursery rhymes and mountain music and Alan Lomax songbooks, and, like most great American artists, he remade himself. Fashioning a figure that was part Dock Boggs, part Abraham Lincoln, with his suspenders and Jew's harp, he exuded the absolute integrity of the folk revival, hungering so hard for the authentic hillbilly sound that he became it -- beautifully and brilliantly -- mastering every traditional instrument: banjo, mandolin, guitar, harmonica, panpipes, ukelele, fiddle and dulcimer. Yet some may ask: Why listen to this Ivy League poseur when we now have the real deal available, whole boxed sets of Dock Boggs, Clarence Ashley and Eck Robertson?
Because Seeger, through study and God-given talent, has made fantastic music, every bit on a par with that of the real hillbillies. Along with Tom Paley and John Cohen, Seeger took his classic '60s band, the New Lost City Ramblers, to old-time music contests and frequently cut the Southern boys on their own turf. Most recently he has collaborated with John Hartford and David Grisman on the much-overlooked -- even by this writer -- Retrograss (Acoustic Disc). His surreal banjo version of "Maggie's Farm" puts all of Beck's postmodern folkifications to shame. And true to the folk spirit, Seeger's show this week will be held at a small dance hall called the Monday Club (37 S. Maple Ave. in Webster Groves): potluck dinner at 4:30 p.m., concert at 5:30 p.m., dance at 7:30 p.m.
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