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Oh we do like to be beside the seaside
Seasick Steve is a former hobo who once called Kurt Cobain a neighbour and, in his 60s, now finds himself acclaimed as one of folk's hottest 'new' acts.
Jason O'Toole, 10 Sep 2008
Seasick Steve’s moniker is an entirely apt one – he literally quivers at the thought of setting foot on a vessel.
So it’s perhaps surprising that the Mississippi-born bluesman will be hopping onto a ferry as he heads to County Clare next month to play at the Cois Fharraige with Sony Ericsson festival, alongside the likes of Travis, Supergrass and The Zutons.
Says Steve: “I love coming to Ireland. I’m really looking forward to the gig, but as you can imagine, I’m not looking forward to the journey itself! When we play in Ireland, I’m going to take my big old bus over, so I’ve got to ride on the ferry when I go from Fishguard. I’ll be OK If I take some seasick pills.”
Formerly a freight-train hopping hobo, Steve nowadays divides his time between a rented home in Northwick and a small apartment in Norway with his Scandinavian wife. Prior to this, the rambling bluesman had lived in 56 other homes, including one that happened to be beside Kurt Cobain (more of which later).
The elderly musician (nobody seems to know his actual age) came to prominence after playing the Later With...Jools Holland Annual Hootenany special in 2006.
“I was just getting over having a heart attack and I really didn’t have nothing going, you know? I was very happy just to be alive. Yeah, it was life changing – it was real life changing. It was horrible. But then I did the Hootenanny two years in a row and it kind of made things go good for me. If I didn’t do that, I don’t know what would have happened.”
After settling in Scandinavia, Seasick Steve recorded his first album Cheap, with The Level Devils as his rhythm section. Soon afterwards, he made his second album Doghouse Blues in his house.
“I recorded in my kitchen on a four-track. I don’t really like making records, I like having them done. I was a little depressed when I made that record because of the heart attack. So, when I was recording, I wasn’t even consciously making a record. When you just write for yourself, you’d write a song and then forget about it the next day. Now I try to record it or at least write down the lyrics because maybe I can use it, you know? Before, I let so much (potential material) go through my fingers. But when you got an audience it’s nice because you have somebody to write for.”