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Album Review

The mysterious Seasick Steve does indeed offer a brand of "cheap" juke joint blues on this album. Not that it's badly recorded at all; it's just rather skeletal and rough, Steve fronting a core trio of himself on electric guitar, "Mr. Joe H." on stand-up bass, and "Mr. Kai C." on drums. In the 1990s and early 21st century, this is the kind of raw juke joint stuff that underwent a revival, or at least was recorded far more often than it had been, both by oldsters and youngsters. Seasick Steve's somewhere in the middle of that age range, and while what he devises is acceptable and certainly gritty, it would have been more ear-catching had it come out ten years or so earlier, before other people did similar stuff (and sometimes did it better). The songs are basic, repetitive, and slightly grungy, Steve singing in a lived-in, scratchy, at times mumbly voice that might slightly remind you of Tom Waits and Dr. John at times, though it's not really that close to either of them. The program's interrupted by a couple of rambling spoken monologues about the hard-living hobo life, and the songs tend to ramble on without saying much as well. The result is a record that's at once idiosyncratically down-home and kind of forgettable, somewhat akin to listening to the semi-improvised busking of a Mississippi electric blues trio, playing for passerby waiting on the platform for the next train out of town.


Born: 1941 in Oakland, CA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Like T-Model Ford, Seasick Steve (aka Steve Wold) began recording his own music much later in life than other musicians. A storytelling singer reviving traditional country blues, Wold spent his childhood in California, but left home at 14. As a hobo, he traveled for several years, jumping trains and working odd jobs. After drifting around the U.S. and Europe, he finally ended up in Norway. Aside from his respectable musical background (which includes recording early Modest Mouse, appearing on BBC...
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Cheap, Seasick Steve
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