Mudcat Café message #2227205 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #107389   Message #2227205
Posted By: PoppaGator
03-Jan-08 - 03:15 AM
Thread Name: Seasick Steve - how big in the US?
Subject: RE: Seasick Steve - how big in the US?
I just checked out a couple of those Seasick Steve videos and ~ I like him! I think that he's an exceptional blues vocalist, especially for a white guy, and a pretty serious student of the John Lee Hooker school of hypnotic boogie.

Sure, he's a minimalist ~ but that's a really deep groove he lays down, and it's no easy task to command so much attention with so little technique (and so few strings). He is putting a lot of personality and emotional content into play without the distraction of any musical frills ~ almost like storytelling (regardless of whether you are clearly hearing any of the lyrics). If this kind of artistry isn't "folk," I wouldn't know what is.

I find his sound to be less monotonous than, say, Johnny Winters', despite Mr. Winters' far greater technical virtuosity. Steve's performance includes a lot of variety in tone and intensity, whereas Johnny is pretty much full-bore high-energy at a constant high pitch, which (to me) gets old fast.

That's just my opinion, of course, and some of you are going to think I'm nuts, maybe even think less of me, but there it is. I am certainly well aware that not everyone understands the blues; hell, none of us understand anything in exactly the same manner as another. If you don't dig John Lee Hooker or Otis Taylor, you certainly won't "get" this guy, either.

Caveat: I enjoy this music, but can't imagine it as a steady diet, not as a listener and certainly not as a player. I play almost exclusively to amuse myself, and to stay amused, I require a much wider variety of riffs and sounds. Playing basic slide guitar on six strings can get too boring for me to keep at it long enough to ever get that good; I'm much happier listening to myself run through chord changes and learning to play tricky little figures here and there. But I certainly enjoy a much wider variety of music than what I play ~ including the deeply simple kind of rauncy blues/rock that this fellow does pretty dang well.

The gimmickry (Mississippi license plate on the kick-box, the three-string deal) is irrelevant to the music, but I suspect that it's the key to Steve's success. Gives the entertainment-biz "suits" a mnemnomic way to keep him in mind, and something for them to talk about and agree upon. More power to him!