Music: Seasick Steve on a roll

Seasick Steve (real name Steve Wold)
Seasick Steve (real name Steve Wold)

In a world where music’s as much about how it sounds as the story accompanying it, Seasick Steve seemed too good to be true at first.

When he started garnering attention around 2005, much was made of his former life, illegally riding freight trains across America, travelling from town to town, job to job, and his seeming inability to lay down roots.

He was blessed with an almost supernatural musical ability, the skill and soul of a long-dead bluesman too.

Everything about him was shrouded with mystique: the fact he’d played with Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell, his years spent working in various studios as an engineer and session musician. Even his age appeared vague, while his various guitars never had the correct number of strings - one even earned the nickname The Three-String Trance Wonder.

Perhaps even more interesting than his mysterious past is the fact he’s managed to stick around long enough to release his fifth album, Hubcap Music.

Speaking to the man - real name Steve Wold - today, he’s as surprised as anyone that he’s still here. “I didn’t think I’d even release one record, let alone five!” he says.

This album marks one of the first times Wold has stepped away from his classic fuzzy blues template.

Coast Is Clear, thanks to a rather wonderful Hammond organ part from John, comes over like an alternate version of Procul Harum’s Whiter Shade Of Pale or Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone.

“That’s exactly what I was going for,” he says. “I wrote it on the Trance Wonder, and I never make pretty songs on that thing. I was playing this new song and my wife heard it, she didn’t really like it, so I threw it away.

“But I couldn’t get it out of my head, so John played this Hammond organ over it, and then we dolled it up some more with some horns, and made it sound real pretty.

“My wife told me it got put up on the internet and some people didn’t like it, but I don’t give a damn,” he adds, laughing. “Most of the record is down and dirty still, and if I can’t do what I want at my age, when can I?

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