The Multifaceted Mike Seal

Alan Bryson By

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AAJ: Of course Elvis Costello has worked with so many greats, such as Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach—I don't know if you've ever heard it, but his album with Burt Bacharach, the songs are fantastic.

MS: Absolutely. Elvis is like Jerry in that he collaborates with so many people with such a wide range of styles. Hats off to him, he puts on a really intense show, as long as he's been doing this, he still goes out and plays for two or three hours a night.


AAJ: Something else I should mention are the wonderful classical music clips you have on your Facebook page. I want to play a piece you did by Johann Sebastian Bach. Could you share a little about how that came to be?

MS: I had played that piece piecemeal over a couple of years, but I'd never worked it up all the way through, so it was just a project. I wanted to do a video to post, because you see so many great videos when you go through Facebook and YouTube, so it's a great inspiration for me just to see what other guitar players are doing. So I wanted to do something like that, Bela Fleck did a great version where he changed the key to fit banjo, and the who's who of classical violinists have recorded this piece, but I hadn't heard an electric guitar piece where it wasn't full on metal distortion.

It was a fun project for me. I did it when I was with the Black Lillies, I had like a five day window to do it, and it took me four days just to memorize it. I really should have given myself more time. I wanted to play it fast, it's faster than the other versions you'll usually hear. Not incredibly faster, but I think I rushed myself a little bit. Also, when I recorded it, I had to be out the door for a tour, I was already late, so I had to rent a car and return it to a different city so that I could finish that recording—I just didn't want to leave without it being done. So the first time I got through without dive bombing was the take that I used. I realized later the audio clips a little bit, and I probably didn't take the time I should have, but hey it was a lot of fun, and it's something that I'll continue to work on and try to clean up.

AAJ: There's another clip of you and your buddy Jonathan Keeney who plays pedal steel, and you guys are great together. I was curious, does he play jazz too?

MS: He does, he's a great jazz guitarist. He was playing mandolin when I met him in Knoxville, Tennessee, probably about 11 years ago. We were playing in a bluegrass band with some buddies around town. I was playing dobro at that time actually. I've had one for a long time and I really love playing it. But Jonathan went through jazz school and is a really gifted guitarist, and he played pedal steel with the Back Lillies, the band I was on the road with so long. So he found that piece and said, "Let's try this!" He printed a score, and we worked on it during sound checks on the road. So after we were both out of that group for a while, we got on the phone and decided to try something out. I think we're going to do some more in that Debussy vein.

Photo credit: YouTube screen capture, cropped with effects
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