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Introducing Seasick Steve - and the Diddley Bow

So the whole thing started when I innocently happened to ask my eldest
son what his plans were for the upcoming weekend - I was expecting the
usual, you know, hanging out with friends, maybe going to a concert, shopping even. So I have to say that his casual reply - “I’ll be making my own diddley
bo” - was not among the usual canon of responses that I have come to
expect from him. [For those who may not know – a “diddley bo” is a single piece of wire stretched between two screws on a board and then played with a slide. More typically a bottle is used]. But back to my story. I was both surprised and intrigued and I won’t lie - a little bit proud.Naturally what followed was a rapid gun fire exchange of information and soon we were both ensconced in front of thecomputer – tea towel over my shoulder, dinner officially abandoned - looking at various “how to” sites and ultimately, the inspiration behind his project: Hobo-turned-musician and now darling of the internet “Seasick Steve” Wold. (So called because – guess what – he gets seasick on boats).

I had to say that I'd never even heard of him. The [indie]shame was crushing.

“Seasick Steve”- who has to be pushing seventy although he’s skittish about revealing his true age - is an original blues graduate from the school of
hard knocks, having run away from home at an early age in order to avoid
beatings and then spending a good deal of time on the road. For years, he literally hopped trains, busked on street corners and lived on the streets, hungry and poor. He’s no poser that is for sure and his version of the blues is as down and dirty as you might care to find.

As well as playing a beat-up, ancient three stringed guitar (which I kind of wish he would upgrade now that fate has smiled on him a little) Steve also plays his own diddley bow and even though he is only playing a single string –he is on fiyah my friends and coaxes bends and bleats out of that thing that simply has to be heard to be believed. Obviously, the man is not Hendrix but nor is he claiming to be – hello, he’s got ONE string – so this is just funky, straight up blues and hearkens back to the hardcore origins of say, Buddy Guy who apparently fashioned his own very first guitar from part of the screen door …

Steve seems an affable dude and packs a pretty impressive vocal punch when he wants to as well.


The witty title of Steve’s aptly titled cd “I Started Out with Nothin' and I Still Got Most of it Left” was particularly impressive to my son. Curiously, Seasick Steve has been especially popular in the UK where he was actually nominated for a Brit Award (International Solo Male Artist) a few years back and he has played everywhere from Glastonbury to the Hammersmith Apollo in London.

Take a listen – you may want to make a diddley bo of your own …
{And yes - there is a connection to Mr. Bo Diddley … )



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