By Justin Partyka;
(photo: John Cohen)
I received news on Saturday that Mike died Friday night. He was 75 and had been suffering from cancer.
Half-brother of Pete, and brother to Peggy, Mike was a champion of American traditional music, both as a performer, and collector and record producer, most often for Smithsonian Folkways records.
With John Cohen and Tom Paley, Mike formed the New Lost City Ramblers (NLCR) in 1958. The band played a key role in the NYC folk revival introducing the vernacular songs and tunes of the rural South to an urban audience.
Along with John Cohen and folklorist Ralph Rinzler, Mike worked hard to track down the surviving musicians who made the classic records of the 1920s and 30s, making field recordings of them and relaunching their careers at festivals and concerts on the revival circuit.
Some of Mike’s classic albums for Folkways include Mountain Music Bluegrass Style, Close to Home and Southern Banjo Sounds, along with the many records made by the NLCR, including There Ain’t No Way Out, which was nominated for a Grammy award.
On 25 August Smithsonian Folkways releases a 3cd set of NLCR recordings, “50 Years: Where Do You Come From, Where Do You Go?”. More info at Amazon.
Mike performing ‘Darling Cory’ at YouTube