The doghouse bluesman took a truck stop in Liverpool last week, Getintothis’ Karl Grubb donned his dungarees to pay his respects…
Seasick Steve: ex-hobo, busker, recording engineer, bluesman and since last year’s hootenanny and this year’s festival season, something of a legend now in the UK.
The Carling Academy was packed to the rafters as Steve ambled on stage. Clad in his trademark dungarees and sporting an unfeasibly long greying beard, he started the show with a bluesy rendition of Amazing Grace.
Backed by his Mississippi beat box (literally just a carpeted box which Steve stomps on), he created an amazingly full sound as he broke into My Donny.
Despite looking like he should be jumping onto a freight train, this guy sure can play.
Punctuating each song banter, Hobo Low followed: a song about drinking with some fellow ‘bos and waking up not knowing where you are.
As a veteran of several Liverpool Daily Post & Echo parties, I can wholeheartedly relate! Superb rhythm and slide guitar is showcased before Steve calls for some bandages as his three stringed guitar – Is like a cheesegrater.
Reverting to a standard six-string next, he selects a young lady to get up on stage to sing a love song as Steve calls for quiet at which point – one noise-maker in the crowd is jokingly told that if he doesn’t shut up ‘I’ll come down and kick your ass – and I don’t mean no play fight either!’
Switching to his trademark three-string guitar Steve informs us his friend Sherman sold him, ‘The worst guitar in the universe – the biggest piece of shit ever,’ for the bargain price of $75.
Sherman told him that it would sound great with six strings on it – Steve reckons that a hundred and sixty strings wouldn’t make it sound better.
After finding out that Sherman ripped him off (he only paid $25 for it), Steve has resolved to leave it half strung so he can recount the tale to everybody and shame his so-called pal. Veterans of previous Seasick Steve gigs loyally chant ‘We know about you Sherman’.
More storytelling follows with Cut My Wings a song about his many hobo nights in various prison cells. The storytelling continues as Steve tells us about hitching in the cold and wrapping his coat around his dog when it starts to shiver. He leaves the stage to rapturous applause
The encore includes Falling Off A Rock; a really cathartic song in which he tells us the story of how he became a hobo – leaving home at 14 because of an abusive stepfather – ‘It was shoot him or leave – so I left…’
The old three string comes back out for the crowd-pleasing doghouse boogie. More anecdotes about sleeping rough, staying warm by kipping next to a warm refrigeration unit and we’re onto yet another encore.
Seasick Steve is a man who can’t believe his luck – vowing to return to the UK as we ‘opened our arms to him – my country doesn’t care…’
Well Liverpool, and the rest of the UK clearly do, for as a raconteur, entertainer and musician – Steve guarantees everybody leaves the Academy with a huge smiles.