NOTE 2018: If you prefer to read, this interview is now available in print form on my Steemit page here, or on the Internet’s most popular jazz website AllAboutJazz here.
Guitarist Mike Seal first caught my attention at the end of 2014 as part of the Jeff Sipe Trio. At that time I described him as an extraordinarily talented young musician, an assessment shared by many, including the legendary dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas. This summer the three time winner of the Country Music Association’s Musician of the Year award invited Mike Seal to join his band. At the beginning of this exciting new chapter in his musical journey, it seemed like an ideal time to speak with him.
Mike has been active on the Southern music scene for over ten years, touring with The Jeff Sipe Trio, The Black Lillies, The Jeff Coffin Mu’tet, and sharing the stage with musicians such as Kofi Burbridge, Oteil Burbridge, Col. Bruce Hampton, a.m.m.
Mike’s grandfather was a gifted self taught gospel guitarist in rural Virginia, and his older brother, Rob Seal, is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar/mandolin/violin/banjo) who is active on the bluegrass music scene. Mike is married to Megan Lovell who is a very accomplished lap steel and dobro player. She and her sister Rebecca front the popular Americana roots band Larkin Poe. The band frequently tours with Elvis Costello, and has opened for the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
During the interview he solves the mystery of his unique technique, talks about his influences, and his trial by fire initiation into the Jerry Douglas Band at the Bluegrass Festival this past summer in Telluride, Colorado, a.m.m. There are several audio clips which showcase his remarkable musicianship and the breadth of his musical interests – jazz, bluegrass, and even two classical pieces. I’m eagerly anticipating an album from this extraordinarily talented musician.
Hit the play button to listen, or click R on the guitar pick icon to download the mp3
Interview related videos
Below — Jeff Sipe Trio with Mike Seal, Taylor Lee bass, Jeff Sipe drums
Mike Seal on guitar with the Jeff Coffin Mu’tet in 2011, playing “L’Esperance” by Felix Pastorius (bass) and Jeff Coffin (sax)
Mike Seal with The Black Lillies
The Jerry Douglas Band with Mike Seal on guitar
Mike Seal playing J.S. Bach
Mike Seal and Jonathan Keeney playing Girl with the Flaxen Hair by Claude Debussy
Mike’s wife is Megan Lovell (lap steel guitar) of the band Larkin Poe.
(look close and you’ll see Mike riding in the back of the truck.)
Here are some clips of the stunningly talented Mark O’Connor, can’t thank Mike enough for turning me on to him.
And a fantastic blues player to boot!
Talk about a strange coincidence, during the interview I mentioned to Mike that Dan Seals 1985 song “Headin’ West” was the first time I heard Jerry Douglas play. Here’s is a clip from the 90s of Jerry Douglas and Dan Seals doing that song — but instead of Jim “Moose” Brown on guitar, it’s Mark O’Connor on fiddle!
The great Phil Baugh mentioned in the interview
Mentioned in interview TTB backstage with Jerry Douglas & Taj Mahal
Jeff Healey’s amazing 5 finger technique