REVIEW: SEASICK STEVE @ The Metro, Sydney 04/01/10

There have been some recent journalistic doubting of the authenticity of Seasick Steve’s persona and the stories of his life experiences. Anyone not convinced of his right to play the blues need only witness the man live in concert where his music rightfully and righteously sets the record straight.
The Snowdroppers were one of those little known support acts that impresses and leaves a lasting impression on you. They have the look down pat with two bearded and snappily attired guitarists, a long haired and stomping drummer and frontman Johnny Wishbone who looks like a good polite choirboy until he opens his mouth and sings and howls the blues between some searing harmonica and frantic banjo playing. Your perception then switches to a mutant Matt Damon meets Dexter. The Snowdroppers have a magical mix of the aforementioned blues, rockabilly and swaggering rock – all delivered with precision and murderous intent. They have a debut album out… Buy it, I did.
A shuffling figure with a beat-up guitar appeared out of the shadows and there was that magical moment before widespread recognition ignited the applause. With a well-worn grin Steve lumbered to his position on a drum riser and launched straight into his raw and roughshod blues. Thunderbird began with the trademark quip – “If you’re gonna sing a song about drinking wine… you should drink some wine”, before taking a few healthy swigs of his drummer’s bottle. That set the scene for a 90 minute set of Jack Daniels gulps, some hilarious and moving stories and some downright dirty guitar playing.
Steve shifted between his one string Diddly-Bo, a cheap pawn shop electric and some battered acoustics. All sounded well-worn and perfectly complemented his autobiographical songs of love, traveling and rural life. Such is his ability to extract a story from any subject he even sung a tribute to his John Deere tractor.
For Walking Man Steve chose two lucky women from the audience to sit with him on stage as he serenaded them as if he was on the porch strumming to his lady. The audience interaction was key to the brilliance of Steve as he paused mid song to simply and brutally nullify talkers in the crowd and early into his set he offered money back to any critics who weren’t digging the show and suggested they leave if they were contemplating a negative review.
Chiggers showed the humorous side of the bluesman with his cautionary and instructional tale of southern USA bugs. His humour shone through a genre that isn’t usually big on laughs. It is something that Steve has obviously realised is a part of his performance that works and he balanced it perfectly.
The new and more groove-based album Man From Another Time featured heavily with the title track and Never Go West particular standouts. Steve has evolved his sound with his current drummer to conjure up a bigger and harder rhythms that bring to mind anything from ZZ Top to early Ben Harper.
Offsetting the smiles are songs like Things Go Up where he led a full Metro sing-a-long that rang on as he left the stage before the encore. Being able to carry a large club venue with often intimate music and only one drummer as accompaniment was an impressive thing. Returning for the encore Steve lifted the tempo with a boogie that changed gears and ended on another audience chorus of howling dogs and Steve gleefully banging a chair into the stage. It showed that the man can make music out of anything and create a communal live atmosphere that is irresistible. A truly reaffirming musical start to 2010.
Reviewed for The Dwarf

NEWS: FALLS FESTIVAL lineup announced…

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Due to a media leak the organisers have now confirmed the first list of acts who will play the Victorian festival on New Years Eve.

Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear tweeted today that… “Finally some info is out! We are indeed coming to the Falls Festival in Australia!! So excited!!!”

Doubtful Sounds is pretty excited about a few of the acts (in red) and hopefully we will see sideshows in other major cities…

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Moby

Hilltop Hoods

Grizzly Bear

Rodrigo Y Gabriela

The Temper Trap

Xavier Rudd

Emiliana Torrini

Little Birdy

Midnight Juggernauts

Andrew Bird

Lyrics Born

Chairlift

King Khan and the Shrines

Editors

Philadelphia Grand Jury

Kaki King

Sarah Blasko

Art Vs. Science

DJ Yoda

Liam Finn

Lisa Mitchell

Major Lazer (Soundsystem)

Patrick Watson

Seasick Steve

The View

White Rabbits

Future of the Left

Killaqueenz

Yves Klein Blue

The John Steel Singers

NEWS: BYRON BAY BLUESFEST 2009 Line-up…

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The first run of acts for the Byron Bay Bluesfest 2009 Blues & Roots Festival has been announced.

Leading the pack is Ben Harper and Michael Franti and Spearhead (surprise, surprise). These guys must surely be honorary Australians by now.

Of the other acts, the most notable inclusions in the humble opinion of Doubtful Sounds is Drive By Truckers, Tinariwen, Seasick Steve and Lucinda Williams.  There are many Lucinda fans that were gutted when she cancelled her tour a few years back due to the death of her mother.  Fingers crossed we get sideshows for these and other acts in Sydney and other parts of Australia and New Zealand.

The full line up announced so far is:

Ben Harper and Relentless7, John Butler Trio, Missy Higgins, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Lucinda Williams, Zappa Plays Zappa, Angelique Kidjo, Tinariwen, Eric Bibb, Seasick Steve, Tony Joe White, Ruthie Foster, Blind Boys Of Alabama, Drive-By Truckers, Toni Childs, Ayo, Luka Bloom, Alpha Blondy, The Easy Allstars, Special Beat, Watermelon Slim & The Workers, The Easy All Stars, Special Beat, Augie March, Alabama, Blue King Brown, Saltwater Band, Sonny Landreth, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Hot Club of Cowtown, Eugene Hideaway Bridges, The Bamboos, Watussi, Lowrider, Nu Yorican Nights, Benny Gallagher, Bob Log III., Lowrider, Nu Yorican Nights.

The 20th anniversary of the festival takes place on the 9-13th April 2009 at Belongil Fields and full info on tickets, camping etc can be found at www.bluesfest.com.au

Drive By Truckers:


REVIEW: Seasick Steve – I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left

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seasick steve

Steve Wold returns with his third record and the follow on from 2006’s Dog House Music which caught the ears of the discerning music community and led to appearances on TV shows, award shows and features in magazines.

The new record keeps things autobiographical, exemplified by the title track and opening cut which touches on his life as a hobo and traveller around the USA after leaving home at the age of 14.

Interestingly he incorporates additional instrumentation, primarily in the form of drums and backing vocals which add another level and texture to the grooves.  These touches, along with cleaner production, show a progression to the sounds he presented on the last record without sacrificing the rawness and simplicity that made Dog House Music such a refreshing success.

One of the most interesting tracks is Just Like a King which is a duet with Nick Cave and a bluesy (boozy?) Grinderman.  It comes on like a long lost delta blues slow groove with slide guitar wailing away before settling into a moaning shuffle.  Cave adds a darker, more desperate edge behind Steve’s earthier tones which works brilliantly.

Fly By Night conjures up a moonlit creaking porch lament about sticking around while Thunderbird lives up to it’s name with a charging finish, all clattering sticks and strings like the Black Keys in a bathtub.

Steve has built on his unique take on the blues with the raw swing and drones of his three string guitar and delivered a record that steps up from Dog House Music to be a contender for our music geek top 10 lists in 2008.

Check out this Black Cab Session of Steve performing Chiggers which ended up on the new record: