Ken Seaman, an integral part of the bluegrass community in Colorado died on Thursday, September 23. He passed quietly in his sleep, and was 79 years of age.
Ken had been a founding member of The Bluegrass Patriots, who entertained bluegrass lovers in Colorado and all across the US for more than 30 years. He was the banjo player with the group, and before they disbanded in 2011, Seaman had become the spokesman for the band. To the very end they championed a traditional bluegrass sound, through six studio recordings including ones for the Copper Creek and Turquoise labels.
Born in Missouri, Ken never lost his Ozark drawl, even after spending most of his life in Colorado. But prior to the move, he had been active in bluegrass there. His father ran the Current River Opry, which brought all sorts of bluegrass music to town, and by the time he was 16, Seaman had his first banjo. From there he never looked back
Ken and his wife, Mary, ran the popular Midwinter Bluegrass Festival, starting out in Ft. Collins and later moving to Denver where it is currently held. Most preparation for the February 2022 event had already been finalized, and there is no word yet about the future of this beloved event. While in Ft. Collins, he also ran the Red Garter Bar in the Old Town section of the city, but before long returned to his chosen career, and became a teacher in the local schools, instructing elementary schoolers at Gleneyre, Red Feather Lakes, and Livermore.
After retirement, he took on every grandparent’s dream of taking care of his granddaughters, and helping to coach them in music.
His many friends in and out of bluegrass will recall Seaman’s gentle nature, and his willingness to help anyone learn to love and play the music. Ken was surely the most enthusiastic evangelists for bluegrass in the state.
Fellow Colorado banjo picker Pete Wernick says that Ken was an indispensable man in the region.
“Ken was deeply engaged in bluegrass fellowship, always in evidence at his festivals. As much as anyone, he represented the spirit of Colorado bluegrass.”
A memorial service is scheduled for September 30 at Foundations Church in Loveland, CO at 3:00 p.m. The family will also host a musical Celebration of Life in Ft. Collins at some point. Those details have not been announced.
R.I.P., Ken Seaman.
Here is a video of The Bluegrass Patriots performing at Ireland’s Athy Bluegrass Festival in 2003.