Weekly Jam (7-23-07)

Your Weekly Jam for the 23rd comes all the way from Norway, well, actually Oakland.

Before packing up and moving to Scandinavia, Seasick Steve lived the ramblin’ life that is normally reserved for the picture shows.  At the age of four, his parents split up.  He spent his formative years living on the streets, hopping rail cars and bouncing from town to town.  He lived in the Haight-Ashbury district in the 60’s, the Left Bank of Paris in the 70’s and Olympia, WA in the 90’s… in the apartment just below Kurt Cobain.  He’s played with Son House and Lightning Hopkins, he opened one of the Seattle area’s most revered studios, producing records for Bikini Kill and Modest Mouse.

_41427203_tartanseasicksteve.jpg

Now, considerably older, Seasick Steve has chosen to bless us with an album of his own.  The instruments are largely of his own design, or passed along from friends.  From the Wikipedia article:

As well as an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar, Seasick Steve owns (and plays) a few obscure and personalised instruments such as these:

  • The Three Stringed Trance Wonder
    • This is a normal guitar, but with only three strings. It has an old Harmony pickup added (with duct tape) and is played tuned to G, G and B using an E string in the A position, a D in the G position and a G in the B position. He often tells the story that he bought it for $75 in this condition in Como, Mississippi from a man named Sherman Cooper, and vowed never to add another string, and that he would tour the world telling his story of how Sherman ripped him off as Sherman told him that he had only paid $25 for it the day before. He has since done this, telling the story at all his gigs. He also says at his gigs (while picking up or putting away the guitar) that it is the “…biggest piece of shit in the world, I swear”.
  • The ‘MDM’, The Mississippi Drum Machine.
    • A small wooden box that is stamped to provide percussion. It is decorated with a Mississippi licence plate, and a small piece of carpet.

As strange as his instruments may be, the sound is bare-bones, mostly acoustic blues styled in the Memphis/Mississippi Delta tradition.  The record is fantastic, a must have for even casual blues observers like myself.

Seasick Steve – Cut My Wings

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2 Responses to “Weekly Jam (7-23-07)”

  1. Brinton Says:

    I’m amazed at the cleanness of the music and of the voice. Looking at that guy there’s no way I predicted it would sound like that. I’ll be looking this one up.

    PS – I wonder if his blues were bluer before he heard that shotgun go off.

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