He is a legend, a master.
He sang baritone and played dobro.
He changed dobro play and musicianship in the way that Beethoven changed symphonic music.
He changed things in music and dobro play that people and generations to come will emulate, from lessons. And they already have been for 30 years.
He influenced musical genres in ways that will last for generations to come.
He was my hero.
I learnt a Greensleeves arrangement on a lap dulcimer in ’73 from his first solo album, Dobro. A HOT version, fast and furious after a slow intro.
Blew folks away anytime I did it, influenced thousands of real musicians in its time, the original version he did, did. But I got attention when I broke it out.
I continue to have wet eyes for two days now, since knowing he was first in hospice, and then at home suddenly, to pass on. I didn’t know he was 10 years fighting cancer, this hero of mine, he never let it be known. I never knew. Had I known, I might have just flown to the east coast to take one lesson from him, if I had the money. But I didn’t, and now, it’s too late, even if I do find the money.
I play his music, I have lots of his music, I keep playing his music, all of it, on and on for two days now.
Of all the pickin heroes who have died thru the years, John Duffey, John Hartford, Vassar Clements, recently Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson . . . this one hurts more than all of them. He was 73 and he had cancer for 10 years. And still played and recorded in the studio.
Two of his most accomplished idols, and monsters on dobro themselves, who have gone on to further the dobro, Jerry (Flux) Douglas and Rob Ickes (of Blue Highway fame) have recently finished a project with St. Mike as he was dying, and it’s being wrapped up for release soon . . . they never mentioned a single thing about his cancer. But they got to play with St. Mike for his last times in a studio.
You’ll have to google up youtubes, there’s not a lot of St. Mike’s music from his solo works, but there’s a lot of Seldom Scene vids out there, and a few more of St. Mike doing test drives of his sig model dobro’s at Beard Guitars and of him hanging with others in other sitches. Grand moments, if ya watch them all.
He did 6 string dobro, blues and bluegrass style, he did 8 string dobro with jazz, swing, and all them E-6 and C-6 tunings that pedal steel gits have cuz well, he PLAYED pedal steel sweet and sharp with the best of them.
He did versions of Stompin At The Savoy that would have Benny Goodman blushing, and well, Benny’s up there with Vassar, Doc, Earl and John Duffey, and a few others. Bet they tear it up.
Here’s a vid of St. Mike ‘splainin history of dobro, dobro artists, from Jimmie Rodgers thru his own works, that’s just history in the making and a must keep vid:
N to finish this tear stained letter, as I wipe up my keyboard from the salty saline drippin from my eyes, is a John Duffey song that will have ya cryin in a few notes, and while yer lids are drippin from Duffey, the words and the song, take a listen to what St. Mike does with that dobro, cuz that my friend, will have you busted out bawlin like a baby in 3 notes. Dawh help me, but that’s some cryin eyes out dobro matchin pickin to Duffey’s mournful dirge, that just sets it.
I miss him already, I will treasure his music and his gentle, kind soul that everyone talks about, forever. RIP St. Mike, thanks for all the gifts, they will go on giving for ever.