When you imagine a blues artist, you usually imagine someone who has lived a colorful life. This is definitely the case of Seasick Steve.
His real name is Steve Gene Wold and he was born in Oakland, California in the middle of the Second World War. His parents separated at the age of four years old and he left home at the age of 13 to avoid the abuse of his stepfather. He moved around continually, traveling across the country on freight trains and working many different types of jobs, including being a farm-hand, cowboy, and even a “carnie”. Wold describes his early difficult life saying: “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.”
Little Steve was influenced musically by his father, who played the “boogie-woogie” piano, and his father’s friends who played the blues. He learned how to play the guitar at the age of eight and eventually worked as a music studio engineer. He began playing the blues and touring in the 1960’s.
What makes Seasick Steve special are also his instruments. He has a guitar made out of hubcaps, another with only three strings and another with just one string! He uses a box as drum. His long white beard gives him a bit of a ZZ-Top look, but most of his music has an even older style. His songs, including titles such as “Happy to Have a Job”, “Started Out with Nothin’” and “Walkin’ Man”, all give an idea about his difficult past.
He has five children from two different marriages, has lived in 59 houses with his current wife, including their current home in Norway. At the age of 74, most people would be retired. Seasick Steve, however, is still on the road, touring and playing. Just last year (2014) he played in Royal Albert Hall, London. His most recent studio album Sonic Soul Surfer was released in March of 2015.
Seasick Steve, who gets his name because he doesn’t like traveling on boats, wasn’t really popular until 2006, when he performed for a BBC TV show. After that his popularity exploded. He later said, «I can’t believe it, all of the sudden I’m like the cat’s meow!»
If you like blues, you will love Seasick Steve. If you don’t like blues, you have never heard Seasick Steve play his life stories.
seasick = mareado
to avoid = evitar
stepfather = padrastro
to move around = cambiar de lugar
freight trains = trenes de cargo
farm-hand = ayudante de granja
carnie = trabajador de feria
hobo = obrero migratorio
tramp = vagabundo
bum = holgazán
touring = de gira
hubcaps = tapacubos
drum = tambor
to be retired = estar jubilado
is still on the road = todavía está viajando
soul = alma
all of the sudden = de repente
the cat’s meow = de repente