They say you can’t teach an old dog new tracks.
But don’t tell Seasick Steve.
Born back in 1941 in Oakland as Steven Gene Wold, the vibrant vagabond has lived so many lifetimes and plied so many trades he gives new meaning to the term Renaissance Man.
Long before he ever played music professionally, he’d traveled the world, working as a cowboy, a carnie, even a migrant worker. He now resides in Norway, but before he arrived there in 2001 — when he finally released his official debut disc, aptly dubbed “Cheap” — he’d toured with Janis Joplin and Joni Mithell, hung out with the late Kurt Cobain, and put food on his Parisian table by busking in The City’s Metro.
To get his blues-folk point across, however, Seasick Steve has invented his own instruments — the Three-Stringed Wonder (a three-stringed guitar with a Harmony pickup duct-taped on), a one-stringed Diddley Bow, and the MDM, or Mississippi Drum Machine — basically just a wooden box that he stomps on for percussion.
But he’s found his audience.
He was just nominated for two overseas Brit Awards in 2009 and 2010, the oldest artist in their history to have received such an honor. Naturally, Jack White has just inked him to his Third Man Records imprint, with a Blue Series single preceding a full album that hits later this year.
A story too surreal to be true? Find out for yourself when he sails into Slim’s on April 4.