I first met Seasick Steve ten years ago at the Notodden Blues Festival. He had moved to Notodden two years earlier. I immediately liked the guy, and we had a talk about music and life in general. Since then I saw him several times the next year, but now I haven’t seen him for some years, mostly due to his extensive touring outside of Norway. Yesterday he played the main stage at the Slottsfjell Festival, and time has been good with Steve.
When you hear about Seasick Steve’s background, you wouldn’t believe that he has shared the stage with John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, Dave Grohl, and many other artists at the age of 70. When he was 13 he ran away from an abusive step-father, and lived as a hobo and on the street for many years. He moved around and eventually started playing more seriously.
He started playing the guitar at the age of eight, and kept playing during his late teens and in the twenty’s. He also toured with different blues artists in the 60’s. But he also worked as a sound engineer and as a producer. In the late 60’s he was located in LA, and mingled with many of the main artists from that period. In the late 80’s he lived in Seattle, and worked on many of the grunge recordings from that period.
In 2001 Seasick Steve moved to Notodden, Norway, and installed his studio there. He worked as a sound engineer, but he also started his own trio and they released their first CD, Cheap, in 2003. The trio played many festivals and concert gigs in Norway, and in 2006 came Seasick Steve’s solo debut, Dog House Music. His TV debut was at Jools Holland’s New Year Eve show that same year, and Seasick Steve performed his song, Dog House Boogie. He got great publicity from this performance, and – as we say – the rest is history.
This attention also made Seasick Steve break through in the UK, and in 2007 he played more British festivals than any other artist, among them the Glastonbury Festival, Reading and Leeds. He continued to tour for the next years, and also released his next CD, I Started Out with Nothin and I Still Got Most of It Left on Warner in 2008. The CD sold to Platinum in the UK, and his two next CDs, Man from Another Time and You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks both sold to Gold.
Seasick Steve’s success the last six years are well deserved. He has worked hard all his life, and never given up on making music and giving his audience great experiences. It is also well deserved that he gets some financial gains from his music. Specially since his music is basically blues, boogie boogie with no frills, straight out with sparse instrumentation and his great voice on top. No auto tune or other moderne effects.
A concert with Seasick Steve is a mix of is songs with lyrics from his life, anecdotes between the songs, and also stories about his guitars, who are old, or homemade. His latest model is made of driftwood, but he also has a three string guitar, The Three-String Trans Wonder, which was the guitar he used at the Jools Holland show.
Go see Seasick Steve if you have the chance, you will not regret it. At The Slottsfjell Festival he played the main stage, and he got a great reception from an audience that you shouldn’t think would like a 72 year old guy with grey beard playing guitars with few strings. Seasick Steve got some new fans at Slottsfjell, and I don’t know many artists who deserve it more.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.