Monday, 28 January 2013

Featured Artist: Seasick Steve

Steven Gene Wold,
commonly known as Seasick Steve, (born 1941)
Wold was born in Morocco. When he was four years old, his parents split up. His father played boogie-woogie piano and at five or six years old, Wold tried to learn but could not. At age eight, he learned to play the guitar (he later found out that it was blues) from K. C. Douglas, who worked at his grandfather's garage. Douglas wrote the song "Mercury Blues" and used to play with Tommy Johnson.
Wold left home at 13 to avoid abuse at the hands of his stepfather, and lived rough and on the road in Tennessee, Mississippi and elsewhere, until 1973. He would travel long distances by hopping freight trains, looking for work as a farm labourer or in other seasonal jobs, often living as a hobo. At various times, Wold worked as a carnie, cowboy and a migrant worker.
Of this time he once said:
Hobos are people who move around looking for work, tramps are people who move around but don't look for work, and bums are people who don't move and don't work. I've been all three.
In the 1960s, he started touring and performing with fellow blues musicians, and had friends in the music scene including Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell. Since then, he has worked, on and off, as a session musician and studio engineer. In the late 1980s, while living in Olympia, near Seattle, he worked with many indie label artists. Kurt Cobain was a friend. In the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf of May 31, 2011 Steve denied this, saying (in translation): "Just like everybody else I saw him pass by in the street and said hello to him. That doesn't make us friends, does it?". Regarding his 'friendship' with Janis Joplin (same source): "We both lived in San Fransisco in the sixties. Period". In the 1990s he continued to work as a recording engineer and producer, producing several releases by Modest Mouse, including their 1996 debut album “This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About”.
At one time, living in Paris, Wold made his living busking, mostly on the metro. After moving to Norway in 2001, Wold released his first album, entitled “Cheap”, recorded with The Level Devils (Jo Husmo on stand-up bass and Kai Christoffersen on drums) as his rhythm section. His debut solo album, “Dog House Music” was released by Bronzerat Records on November 26, 2006, after he was championed by an old friend, Joe Cushley, DJ on the Ballin' The Jack blues show on London radio station Resonance FM.
Seasick Steve performing in 2009 at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London's Hyde Park.
Wold made his first UK television appearance on Jools Holland's 'Annual Hootenanny' BBC TV show (broadcast on New Year's Eve 2006) where he performed a live rendition of "Dog House Boogie" on the 'Three String Trance Wonder' and the 'Mississippi Drum Machine' (see below). After that show his popularity exploded in Britain.
He was well received in the UK, winning the 2007 MOJO Award for Best Breakthrough Act and going on to appear at major UK festivals such as Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury. In 2007 he played more UK festivals than any other artist.
Wold toured early in 2008, playing in various venues and festivals in the UK. He was joined on stage by drummer Dan Magnusson. KT Tunstall also dueted with Wold at one concert (Astoria, London, January 24, 2008). Wold also played many other festivals throughout the world in 2008, including Fuji Rock in Japan, East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival in Australia (also in April 2008), and Roskilde in Denmark.
Wold's major-label debut, “I Started Out With Nogthing And I Still Got Most Of It Left” was recorded with Dan Magnusson on drums, was released by Warner Music on September 29, 2008, and features Ruby Turner and Nick Cave's Grinderman.
In 2009, Wold was nominated for a Brit Award in the category of International Solo Male Artist. That same year, BBC Four broadcast a documentary of Wold visiting the southern USA entitled Seasick Steve: Bringing It All Back Home. On January 21, Wold hosted "Folk America: Hollerers, Stompers and Old Time Ramblers" at the Barbican in London, a show that was also televised and shown with the documentary on BBC Four as part of a series tracing American roots music.
In February 2010, Seasick Steve was nominated for a Brit Award in the category of International Solo Male Artist for the second consecutive year.
In 2010, Seasick Steve made numerous festival appearances throughout the summer, including the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, the main stage at V Festival, the main stage at the Hop Farm Festival and many more. Also, he collaborated with Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall on a song called "Golden Frames", for her third album “Tiger Suit”.
In February 2011, Seasick Steve signed to Play It Again to release his new album with the exception of the US, where it will be released on Third Man Records. Subsequently his new album “You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks” was released on his new labels and it was announced that former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones had played on the new album, and performed alongside Seasick Steve to promote it.
In July 2011, Seasick Steve played on stage with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters & John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin (both of whom are members of the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures) at Milton Keynes National Bowl in front of a sold-out audience of 65,000.
In August 2011, Seasick Steve played at Reading and Leeds Festival, and the Fairport's Cropredy Convention, sharing the stage with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.
On August 20, 2011, Seasick Steve finished his European festival season of 2011 with a show on the Lowlands Festival in Biddinghuizen, The Netherlands
On May 28, 2012, Seasick Steve played on the main-stage of the Pinkpop Festival in Landgraaf, The Netherlands.

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