He's an overnight sensation. It just took fifty years.
He's bummed around the US and Europe forever. Odd jobs, busking on the street, working on the front end of recordings -- with some notable artists, mostly otherwise. Now he's on everything in the UK.
What he appears to be is real. People find "real" electrifying if it's presented the right way. I imagine lots of people heaping adulation on him crab-walked past him and averted their eyes when they saw him on the street before. Real is electrifying, and real is scary. He may be from Oakland, but he sounds like he was born at the foot of Mount Belzoni, and never moved to Chicago. That real.
"Hobos are people who move around looking for work, tramps are people who move around but don't look for work, and bums are people who don't move and don't work. I've been all three."
The secret is to get yourself a haunted guitar:
In an interview with an Australian magazine, Seasick Steve attributes much of his unlikely success to his cheap and weather-beaten guitar, 'The Trance Wonder' and reveals the guitar’s mojo might come from supernatural sources. “I got it from Sherman, who is a friend of mine down in Mississippi, who had bought it down at a goodwill store. When we were down there last time he says to me, ‘I didn’t tell you when you bought it off me, but that guitar used to be haunted’. I say, ‘What are you talking about, Sherman?’. He says, ‘There’s 50 solid citizens here in Como who’ll tell you this guitar is haunted. It’s the darnedest thing – we’d leave it over in the potato barn and we’d come back in and it would be moved. You’d put it down somewhere and the next morning you’d come back and it would have moved. When you took that guitar the ghost in the barn left’. He told me this not very long ago and I said to him, ‘Sherman! Why didn’t you tell me this before?’ and he said, ‘Well the ghost was gone – I didn’t want it around here no more!’”
There's a secret to getting a haunted guitar: You have to haunt it yourself. Steve do.
If you're itching for more, Seasick Steve does Chiggers on The Black Cab Sessions.
(Thanks to Misterarthur for sending that one along)