Another interview for the 2011 Festival Guide, I spoke to the charming and bashful Seasick Steve…
The Stalwart – Seasick Steve
He may have only started playing the UK festivals in 2007 following an appearance on Jools Holland, but his raw homemade guitar sounds and drawling American charm have ensured Seasick Steve Wold is booked year after year across a plethora of festivals.
“A couple of years ago, I played more UK festivals than any other band, period,” he tells Clash rather bashfully.
“That first year I came over, I got asked, probably as a joke, to play the main stage at Glastonbury.
“And at that time, I was just playing by myself. I only had this tiny little amplifier and my guitar, and I was walking up onto the stage at Glastonbury, and the guys working there thought I was bringing somethin’ up for someone else!
“They said ‘Just put it over there,’ and I said, ‘Oh no, I can’t, I’ve gotta go and play.’ And they said ‘You?!’ That stage is very, very big. I just sat out in the middle on my chair with my guitar and my amp, but I went out there and did my best, and people liked it.”
The subsequent whirlwind has been a pleasant surprise for the former vagabond, who does little to hide his delight at everyone’s support both onstage and in person. It’s a stark contrast to his earlier festival experiences. “I hadn’t been to any kind of festival since 1969, when I was at Altamont where the Rolling Stones played and someone got killed,” he remembers.
“That was horrible, and after that festival I never went to one until I came to the UK. I was completely shocked how much fun everyone was having and how nice it was.” Happy vibes indeed.
With new album ‘You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks’ out this month featuring Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on bass and mandolin, and a previous collaboration with Nick Cave, is there any chance of any guest appearances at any shows this summer?
“Maybe. I don’t wanna give nothin’ away that might not get. It’s a possibility. A strooooooooong possibility! I’m not trying to be coy, but I just can’t say yet.”
One thing’s for sure – he’ll be bringing his ragtag collection of homemade guitars, from the infamous one-stringed Diddly-Bo to the Morris Minor guitar, made of two hubcaps from the iconic car and a broom handle.
It’s this ragtag, devil-may-care attitude, paired with his energy and unaffected patter, that’s gotten under the skin of the festival-goer’s psyche. And the appreciation is clearly mutual.
“Now that I’ve been in England so much, I know that the people are weird!” He laughs. “I really like that, even people that seem to be normal, you scratch down a little bit and they’re reeeeal strange.
“And they go to the festivals and break out the weird stuff. That’s something I really like. If the people in England hadn’t been so weird, I don’t think they’d have liked me. Whatever it is that you guys have got, it’s all good with me.”
Seasick Steve is playing Latitude, Isle of Wight, Reading and Leeds and Larmer Tree this summer