by Buddy Miller
When I was 9 or 10 my folks bought me a cheap nylon string guitar. I used to ride my bicycle around town with that guitar strapped on my back. One day we took a spill and the guitar’s side split in half with a huge crack, it was still playable and was my only guitar till i was 13.
Yvonne Aronson lived a few doors from me. I would walk to her house for a few lessons and she taught me to play the Wildwood Flower. When she ran out of songs to teach me, she suggested I sit in on Marge Seeger’s group lessons. Marge taught a group of students weekly on campus and was married to Mike Seeger of the New Lost City Ramblers. She was an amazing guitar player, pretty and kind. She later gave me a few lessons at our home. She offered to take me to a Big Joe Williams show when he played nearby. I don’t remember why i couldn’t go, probably a school night, a big regret now. Marge Seeger steered me towards the good stuff and showed me some things that I play every time I pick up a guitar, to this day. When it came time to upgrade the cracked guitar she was my advocate, and told my folks that maybe I deserved something better, or at least not broken.
About a year later my school had an assembly. We sat and listened to a new group called the Strange Creek Singers. Time stood still. Hazel Dickens and Mike Seeger, along with Tracy Schwarz and Alice Gerrard. It was life changing. Hazel sang “Black Lung” Mike sang and played everything. Nothing was the same after.
[Unfortunately, we couldn't locate a picture of Marge - if anyone has one, please send it so we can put it up. Here are the New Lost City Ramblers in action:]