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Seasick Steve

Aprile 2009
Dalla California alla Norvegia, passando per Seattle, Parigi e Londra. Prima di sfondare nello show business, Steven Gene Wold, in arte Seasick Steve, suonava sui marciapiedi del mondo e dormiva sotto le stelle.

di John Rigg

File audio:

American Blues musician Seasick Steve
American Blues musician Seasick Steve

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Have you heard of Seasick Steve? He is the biggest surprise in the music business today. He’s 68 years old, he looks like a homeless person, and he plays the blues on an old guitar with only three strings. His CD I Started out with Nothin’ and I Still Got Most of it Left is high in the UK album charts. If you buy a copy, you can discover the magic of Seasick Steve.


Steve suffered a serious heart attack in 2004 and decided his music career was finished; but when he recovered, his wife convinced him to record his songs for posterity – just him and his guitar. He made the CD Doghouse Music in his own kitchen in front of the fire, and he thought that was the end of it. He was wrong: he was invited to appear on the BBC television show, Jools Hollands’ annual Hootenanny, on New Year’s Eve 2006, and he instantly became a  star.


Steven Gene Wold, who was born in Oakland, California in 1941, really was a homeless person. He left home when he was 13 years old to escape from his violent stepfather, and spent the next years travelling around the USA on freight trains and working on farms. In the 1960s he played gigs with legends like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Son House. He remembers: “The old bluesmen all suddenly became famous. It lasted a couple of years and then they disappeared back to the farms.”


In the early 1970s Seasick Steve himself disappeared to Europe and became a homeless busker on the streets of Paris. He later moved to Britain and worked as a sound engineer and session musician. He later went back to the USA and headed to Seattle, where he worked with Grunge bands like Modest Mouse. In the 1990s he lost his enthusiasm for modern music and moved to Norway – his wife is Norwegian. What does he think of his sudden success? “It’s a surprise for an old guy like me,” he says. “All these young people coming to see me: that’s a real honor!”

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strings - corde.

I Started Out With Nothin’... Left - lett. Ho iniziato con niente e mi è rimasto quasi tutto.

charts - classifiche.

heart attack - attacco di cuore.

hootenanny - raduno informale di musica rock.

stepfather - patrigno.

freight trains - treni merci.

working on farms - lavorando in fattorie.

gigs - concerti.

busker - musicista di strada.

headed - si diresse.

sudden - improvviso.

rode the freight trains to look for work - viaggiava sui treni merci per cercare lavoro.

unknown - sconosciuta.

greeting - saluto.

railway workers - lavoratori della ferrovia.