Seth Bernard was born and raised on a farm in Lake City, Michigan. After graduating from Lake City High School, Seth opted for a postgraduate year at Interlochen Arts Academy where he studied theatre, music and poetry. Shortly after graduation, Seth explored his acting talents in a feature film costarring with Ernest Borgnine. He spent the following fall living in New York, working for a music equipment rental company (a job landed to him by family friend and Rolling Stones roadie, Chuch Magee), and then hit the road with the National Theatre for Children, visiting schools all across the country, dressed as a six-foot-tall bug.
Seth then returned to his home in northern Michigan and began working on his debut album Hello Fellow Travelers, recorded in the home of his guitar teacher, Michael Macnamara. He decided to release it under the label name Earthwork. It was Earthwork's first album, though plenty of honey, maple syrup and beef from the herd of Scotch Highland Cattle had been sold under the label which was designed by his mother, Chris Bernard. The Earthwork Music Collective was born, and close friends and collaborators Dan Kahn and Luke Winslow-King soon released albums with the Earthwork label. The collective grew its own identity as many more Michigan musicians began playing shows and recording together under the Earthwork name. Inspired by Woody Guthrie and the American folk tradition, they hosted an annual event at Seth's family farm that has continued as the Harvest Gathering, a music festival unique in its affordability, culinary splendor, intimacy, and at last count, over ninety performing bands. Seth's ability as a musician and songwriter is rivaled only by his ability as a community organizer.
In 2003, Daisy May Erlewine went to the Ann Arbor Folk Festival to see Patty Griffin perform at the Michigan Theatre and encountered Seth, also performing. The two soon hit it off and joined forces, performing and recording as a duo ever since. Their voices meld together in rare harmony. May's rhythm guitar frees him to take more leads, while lending strength and depth to his vocals and the occasional fiddle part. Seth, in turn lends his impeccable guitar playing to her instant classics, providing unending diversity in tastefully chosen rhythm, bass lines and leads.
Seth's other projects include HiLo, an annual analog recording project currently in its sixth year, and Airborne or Aquatic, a northern Michigan psychedelic roots-rock outfit.
As a performer, Seth is equally at home playing his introspective, socially-charged ballads as he is joining a 10 piece electric ensemble on lead vocals, bass, steel or electric guitar. He can shred with the best of them, but also bring it home with stylish, mellow fingerpicking. His singing is intimate and raw. In his latest recording effort, This Here, Seth's abilities at orchestration are apparent. With nearly 30 participating musicians representing the best of the Michigan folk, jazz and roots scenes, the album is nothing less than epic. It moves with theatric intent, and perhaps the greatest triumphs are the transitions between tunes---each carefully contemplated---bridging themes and ideas throughout the entire piece, the first of a two part life cycle. The second album in the series can be expected to hit the airwaves in the coming months.