Samuel Seth Bernard | Northern Michigan
By Brad Kik
Co-founder of the Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology
Seth Bernard has a uniquely Michigan anatomy: knee deep in glacier-folk with a belly full of whiskey and peaches smuggled from the root cellar of a '70s guitar god. Fingers resinous with fresh cut white pine, and sacred north star geometries whirling around his brow.
Born on April Fools Day, and playing the trickster-bard every day since, he's grown from a potent young Interlochen idealist into a black-bearded surprise-eyed psych-rocker singing the woods and water, souls and soils of the Great Lakes.
The tools! He's got a pine-box-full, from his Gretsch (and the chops to play it, mister), to the many iterations of Seth-music. I mean Airborne or Aquatic, bristling with fuzz-poem arena-anthems, to Starlight Six, the madly talented hybrid of Michigan royalty (May Erlewine, Joshua Davis of Steppin' In It, Mike Shimmin of, well, everything, and the power duo of Dominic and Rachael Davis). Or he can roll solo, with a catalog of hundreds of original tunes, thousands of covers and millions of improvisational licks. And the waltzes. By god the waltzes.
And more tools: Earthwork Music Collective, Family Weekend, Harvest Gathering, The Water Festivals, On the Ground, 350.org, youth engagement, and partnerships with dozens of local non-profits. Like a true old-school folker, he plays the songs because they mean something, and that something they mean drives a life beyond just playing songs.
His most valuable tool, though, doesn't live in that box: two good ears. Seth listens like a priest. To his audience, to his community, to his deep-rooted intuitive star-born aurora borealis campfire ancestor soul. That alone makes every show - EVERY SHOW - worth the price of admission.