With his rough-as-the-road songwriting style, his collection of barely-playable instruments and a traveling bag full of stories, Seasick Steve is a modern-day blues troubadour spinning yarns about hard-living, easy-dying and life on the road.
Born Steven Gene Wold in 1941 in Oakland, Seasick Steve picked up the guitar at the age of 8 and learned to play the blues from local mechanic and blues artist K.C. Douglas, who was was later a part of the Bay Area blues revival. At 13, Steve left his abusive home and worked a string of odd jobs around the South that included carnie, migrant farm worker, cowboy and seasonal laborer. He adopted the life of a train-hopping hobo, wrote songs about his experiences and busked for spare change on sidewalks around the country.
In the ‘60s, Steve started performing and touring with blues musicians and worked off and on as a session musician and studio engineer. In the ‘80s, while living in Seattle—and hanging out with Kurt Cobain—he worked with several Northwest bands and produced the celebrated debut album by soon-to-be indie-superstars, Modest Mouse.
In 2006, Steve released his solo debut album and was named “Best Breakthrough Artist” by Mojo Magazine. He was in his sixties and technically had been “breaking through” for decades, but the notoriety marked the entrance of Steve into the consciousness of mainstream music lovers, and he soon found himself playing festivals and concerts around the world.
Playing a hodgepodge of obscure instruments that he has picked up along the way, including a 3-string “piece of shit” guitar that he refers to as “the three-string Trance Wonder” and swears is haunted, Steve is a musical champion of the people and a master of connecting with audiences through his genuine, down-home manner and well-crafted, rough and rugged folk-rock blues.
Seasick Steve plays the Blank Club on Tuesday, April 5.