I am so steamed.
As a cast-iron, certified 100% "rock snob", I get severely irritated and uppity whenever some no-neck fool displays their ignorance. And reading through the British press over the weekend, I ran into a doozy. Now you shouldn't go looking in the mainstream press for much in the way of informed criticism of anything, much less music, but still, it's the casual flaunting of utter idiocy that got my goat, particularly when it concerns someone as good as this guy.
Like pretty much anyone who believes that great music is not something that comes along every day, I have only a passing interest in what gets broadcast on music TV, but I happened to be watching the estimable Jools Holland's New Year show a couple of years back, and was flat-out knocked out by Seasick Steve.
Basically Steve's a life-long drifter with a guitar, who as far as I can tell is channeling Robert Johnson. On the show, he played amplified Delta blues on a three-stringed guitar, whacking a wooden box (the "Mississippi drum machine") with his shoe for a beat. And he didn't just play. He tore that guitar up, bent those three strings to within an inch of breaking, and generally hollered his way through some great music.
I mean, check this out!
In an age where, as I've complained before, rock bands and artists have to be airbrushed and image-consulted to kingdom come before they get loosed onto an unsuspecting public, an artist like Seasick Steve Wold is a breath of fresh air. There's no pretension at hipness, no punky attitude-by-numbers, as you'd expect from a guy who's spent his life on the margins. What you see is (apparently) what you get. If anyone remembers Ted Hawkins (Wikipedia is your friend, folks) then Steve is cut from the same cloth.
Steve's second album is out now, and it's just as good as the first one. An airheaded know-nothing of a columnist referred to him as a "glorified busker" and in so doing revealed his own utter ignorance of the traditions, the heritage of the blues. Seasick Steve is the blues.