Without dwelling on the complex socio-economic factors that can render a person homeless, really, Seasick Steve should have a bath, get a job and shut the fuck up. Of course, you can’t not dwell on such details; Steve’s shtick is singing about his time on the streets. Yet, 66 years old and four albums in, the former hobo ignores the abuse, the horror and the desolation that comes with not having a roof above you. Instead, Steve sings about life on the open road with no-one but his trusty hound for company.
Seasick Steve - aka Steven Wold - is hysterically popular in the UK, where his first solo CD, Dog House Music, has sold 150,000 copies, and his second album, I Started Out with Nothin and I Still Got Most of It Left, debuted at number nine in the charts. Earlier this year, I saw 5000 adults of every age - but mostly the middle one - packed into a sold-out Hammersmith Apollo, dancing like drill bits, and howling back when Wold barked like a dog. It was like a revivalist meeting full of epileptic dentists.
When Wold came to Australia last year to play the Byron Bay Bluesfest, the crowd greeted him like they'd been waiting all day for a greybeard granddad with black tattoos to fingerpick songs on a one-string guitar while sitting on a chair. He returns to Byron next month, backed by enough record-company money to build a small hostel for the homeless, and his label, Warner, flew me to London to show me why.(read more...)