Seasick Steve has been playing music all his life although he didn't start making a living at it until he was in his early sixties. He was born in Oakland, and took guitar lessons from K.C. Douglas who wrote the standard "Mercury Blues." He traveled the world busking, played as a session guitarist, and was befriended by Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell in the '60s. In the '80s, he produced the first Modest Mouse album This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. He moved to Norway with his wife and family in 2001, and started recording his quirky blues tunes on an old four-track tape machine.
Grizzled bluesman Steven Gene Wold's rags-to-riches life story will surely one day end up being adapted for one of those life-affirming musical biopics that so often sweep the boards come awards season. The man now known best as Seasick Steve left home to escape from his abusive stepfather as a young teen, lived as a hobo across Tennessee and Mississippi for the better part of nearly two decades, and was on the fringes of the same scene as Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell while performing as a session musician in the '60s, before eventually receiving an unlikely commercial breakthrough at the grand old age of 65. It's this eventful back-story that makes the 21 primitive blues offerings on Walkin' Man: The Best of Seasick Steve, his first full-length compilation, so compelling.
He may refer to himself as “a song and dance man”, but American blues musician Seasick Steve - is indisputably a living legend. His new album, You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks, was recorded through the fall of 2010, was produced by The Dog hisself (Seasick Steve) and Henry James Wold and mixed by Vance Powell at Air Studios Studios in London. You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks stays true to its title, not really introducing any new elements to this Seasick Steve’s canon, but perfectly satisfying if you’re coming in not looking for a revelation in his sound. Expect the expected and this album won’t disappoint.
This is Seasick Steve's first release on a major label, Warner Brothers, to which he has moved from his previous home at Bronzerat. The album includes the usual blues stomps, played on a variety of (largely ratty) guitars. Steve attacks these vigorously, with his guitar playing sounding haphazard and note-perfect at the same time. There are also a couple of ballads, including the truly delightful "Walking man", with Steve's voice at its gentlest and mellowest. There are even a couple of pretty good covers, including the old Box Tops hit The Letter and the blues standard Rolling and Tumbling.