Seasick blues in Byron

Seasick Steve looks and sounds like a good ol’ boy from the US who has done it tough.

And that’s because he is.

His music is the blues and his songs come from his life on the road. With his battered jeans, baseball cap and a ZZ Top beard this old fella has finally hit the big time.

It’s a rags to riches story. Seasick Steve was born Steve Gene Wold in California in 1941. He got the name Seasick Steve because, um, he gets seasick. So there ya go.

Before winning Best Breakthrough Act at the 2007 MOJO Awards, Seasick Steve had held down jobs as a carnie, a garbage man, a roofer and even sold shoes. He’d lived a life on the road, having left home at 13 in the 1950s, travelling the US mostly by hopping freight trains and hitch-hiking. (Now there’s your classic blues story…)

In the 60s he was performing a bit and had some cool friends like Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell. But he never made the big time.

In the 80s and 90s he worked as a recording engineer and producer with a lot of indie bands, and did some gigs too, but it was his performance on the Jools Holland Annual Hootenanny BBC TV show in 2006 that shot him to stardom.

“I can’t believe it,” Seasick Steve said at the time. “All of a sudden I’m like the cat’s meow.”

His debut solo album, Dog House Music, sold more than 140,000 copies in the UK and then in 2008 his next album, I Started Out With Nothin’ and I Still Got Most Of it Left (love that title) made it to the UK Top 10.

Seasick Steve’s latest album Man From Another Time is an organic album that throws away modern studio trickery in favour of the warm style of live analogue recording.

Seasick Steve toured Australia a year or two ago. Now he’s back.

He’ll play the Great Northern Hotel in Byron this Friday, January 29, at 9pm. Tickets are $44.50 from 6685 6454 or www.thenorthern.com.au.


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