This conversation was a special treat, as it happened in the week following Harvest Gathering. Earthwork Farm was considerably more quiet and tranquil than just days prior when it was teaming with smiling and ebullient people celebrating it with song, drink and warm smiles. While quiet and peaceful, I could still feel the pulse of Harvest, resonating in the bees humming away nearby. Bob Bernard, is the founder of Earthwork Farm and his son, Seth - is founder of Earthwork Music, Harvest Gathering and countless other creative pursuits. We drank home-brew on the gazebo off the back of the main barn, and had a little chat. It's our finale to the Harvest Gathering edition and I hope you enjoy it.
The Drinks: Seth’s “Monster in the Closet” Imperial Stout
The Music: Intro and outro feature “Wealthy Street” © Drew Nelson. Seth and Bob play, “Travel” from Being this Being © Seth Bernard and “You Are My Friend“ © Dick Siegel
Samuel Seth Bernard
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 (you gotta google this stuff, links below), 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.
-Brad Kik, co-founder of the Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology
Bob Bernard grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the son of two fiddlers, and has spent the last 35 years of his life tending bees, cattle, running a sawmill, educating, farming, fathering and fiddling on Earthwork Farm, where the Harvest Gathering takes place.