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At a concert during the 2006 Great Lakes Bioneers Conference - an annual Traverse City-based environmental symposium - Seth interjected between songs, "If some of you young people are thinking of moving to Oregon, please don't. We need you here!" It was a message that had personal relevance for the duo: when they were first playing together, Seth and May themselves gave some thought to moving to Portland, (Seth's mother and sisters live there and sing together). But Seth and May decided to remain in the Midwest, and they soon became an integral part of Michigan's musical landscape - not to mention two of the busiest musicians in the state.
"There was this feeling we both had about all our friends and music here, that it was gaining momentum and galvanizing," Seth says, now a silhouetted shape on the roof. "Every community has a certain need, and part of our thing is focusing on Michigan."
Later in August, Seth and May play a noontime concert in Traverse City at the grand opening celebration for Oryana Food Cooperative's expansion. A few hundred people show up, overflowing the tent set up for the event.
Seth plays a rhythm on guitar that gets everyone lightly rocking, and May accentuates the beat with a staccato part on violin. The song is "Am I In Here?," which features the refrain "I owe it to you, all of it." It is a love song, and Seth is singing it to his partner as well as to the audience. Young kids sit on their parents' laps, and pre-teens disarmed by the music lean against their parents, too. Couples move closer to each other as the duo plays. It is another day on the road, but Seth and May have a way of making everyone feel at home when they sing.
Patrick Ivory writes from Traverse City.
Note: This article was first published in December 2007 and was updated for the web February 2008.