HOGWASH to anyone that says that rock ‘n’ roll’s just fer the young. Country bluesman Seasick Steve (a.k.a. Steve Wold) didn’t start recording music ’til he was into his 60s. You can usually find him clutching a cheap (often homemade from junk meant for the scrap heap) guitar, and clad in lived-in overalls, pickin’ and singin’ from experience gathered over his long rambling life fit for a good, ol’ fashioned, ramshackle folk song.
Wold was born in northern California in 1941. He picked up a little guitar from Delta bluesman KC Douglas, who just happened to work in Wolt’s grandfather’s mechanic shop. At the age of 14 went walkabout. He rode the rails as a hobo, worked odd jobs, and busked. He played with John Lee Hooker, among others. Eventually he wound up working as a session musician in Seattle where he helped produce some of Modest Mouse’s early work including their 1996 debut disc This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About.
He went back out on the road, he busked in Paris, and then moved on to Scandinavia where he released Cheap in 2004 along with Swedish group The Level Devils, and followed it up with his first real solo album Doghouse Music in 2006. The latter record made him a certified celebrity in the U.K. In 2007, at the age of 66, Brit music mag MOJO named him Breakthrough Act of the year. He’s been a fairly prolific solo artist since, releasing almost an album a year, including 2011’s You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.
Wold released his latest record Hubcap Music earlier this year in the U.K. and Europe, his home-base these days. This month Jack White’s Third Man Records issued it here in the States. Along with his signature gritty holler, It features guest spots from White and John Paul Jones. North Mississippi Allstar Luther Dickinson joins Seasick Steve with some down-and-dirty slide guitar on “Home.” The tune’s hardcore, hip-shaking blues. It’s greasy and groovy, and just a little bit mean. Lyrically, Steve doesn’t stray too far from time-honored blues subjects, but unlike a lot of what passes for “blues” these days, you know he’s coming from a place of honesty. A fella that rode the rails and worked his fair share of odd jobs has probably driven a few tractors and rusty cars in his time lookin’ to find his way back home.