He’s in his sixties, and yet won this years Mojo Best Breakthrough Act award, pushing the UK on its knees and breathing new life and hope into your iPod. On paper it is the unlikely success story of the year, but when you see it for yourself it makes perfect sense!
All the rules are now changed if one man can get on stage with a piece-of-shit three-string guitar, sing songs of his downtrodden hobo days in spirit-lifting fashion, and win over audiences with hipster ease (which he has done consistently and repeatedly for the last 12 months). His last album Dog House Music was recorded in mono in his kitchen in Norway but has sold by the bucketload. He’s clearly got an ear for it, spending much of the Nineties recording and producing in Olympia, WA during the grunge boom, bands like Modest Mouse, Murder City Devils etc.
Born in Oakland, CA, Steve Wold left home at 14 to a lengthy freight-train-hopping and migrant-working hobo lifestyle, before eventually ‘settling’ in Tennessee (via San Francisco, UK, Hawaii, Tennessee, Washington State and god knows where else – he married his Norwegian wife 25 years ago and they’ve lived in 56 different houses).
He became Seasick Steve fairly recently, so nicknamed after an ill-advised ferry journey, and it coincided neatly with a decision to deliver his own musical goods to the world, instead of just helping others deliver theirs. He released the first album by Seasick Steve & The Level Devils in 2004, and just as things started rolling along quite nicely he suffered a massive heart attack and lost his studio. No biggie, makes for a good song or two. So the Dog House Music album was a kind of therapy, and he realised he could carry on. And so here he is, and here we are. We all love a good story and a good song, and Seasick Steve is king of the yarn, duke of the hot blues lick. It’s that pure and it’s that simple.