Music wise, it looks to be a good summer for the UK and what is fast becoming a proto-tradition, Seasick Steve. As the American bluesman continues in a healthy vein of form supporting his ‘Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks’ album and is fast becoming one of the highlights of summer festivals circuit. One of which, I heartily recommend is the Larmer Tree Festival, which, ironically, Steve is set to headline.
Indirectly inspiring the title of his new album ‘You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks’, Steve believes that “even if I wanted to make something fancy, it wouldn’t work”. But perhaps that depends on how you define ‘fancy’, for in fact ‘You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks’ showcases Seasick Steve and his eccentric drum virtuoso sidekick Dan Magnusson flaunting some pretty fancy footwork as they agilely and adroitly step from genre to genre.
Friends and strangers alike have passed glowing comments on Seasick Steve’s performances and occasionally of his array of instruments, of the musical, variety well, kind of, talk about guitars even with four strings, three or one – it’s an instrument, but hub caps? assorted cans?
More recently he has been sighted for his live performances all over the UK for the past five years; at festivals such as the Larmer Tree Festival or when the song and dance man took to last year’s main stage of Glastonbury’s 40th anniversary. But dear reader, you probably already know all this so I press on.
A short accurate description of the singer songwriter goes something like this; He is a 21st Century blues man, who reaches back to the old traditions but also has a punk sensibility, and a gravelly, soulful voice; (Gravelly? not in Drake, Dylan or Cohen mould, but more like the a reflective Tom Waits in vocal style). Electric and passionate onstage, also known for his 3 string Trance Wonder, and a one-string diddley bow). That does not tell the whole story. Anyone that caught Seasick Steve at Larmer, Guildford, SxSW or Glastonbury, will most likely testify that it’s the strength of his performances, the songs, the array of which enthrals and entertains populated festival fields across Europe and beyond.
Since Steve first arrived in 2006 was his festival appearances in the summer of 2007 that would ignite an interest that shows no sign of slowing. The Lamer Tree festival has invited the singer songwriter back as the main headline at this year’s bash on July 13th. Seasick Steve is returning to Larmer Tree Festival for the first time since his inaugural appearance in 2007, when he whipped up a musical storm with his exceptional talent that engages and inspires. No wonder then what dominated the interview…
We are so happy you are headlining Larmer Tree Festival – It’s great to have you back! How does it feel to come back as the festival’s closing headliner 4 years on from your first appearance at LTF?
“I have a very nice memory of playing at Larmer Tree … wandering through the audience playing my guitar. It still seems unbelievable that I get to do all this!”
You have toured all over the world, where is your favourite place to play and why?
“The UK, because that’s where it started off for me”.
You have a new album coming out on 30th May ‘You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks’ – what can we expect from this album?
“Well, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks … so more of the same”
The UK has an amazing festival scene – there are over 400 taking place this year! (of which you’ve probably played most of them!) What do you think of UK festival crowds?
“They are the best in the world … and also they talk English.”
Any special collaboration we should look out for on your upcoming album?
What encouraged you to first start making music? Who were your earliest inspirations, musical and otherwise?
My daddy played boogie woggie piano. Earliest inspirations were The Inkspots, Mills Brothers, Nat King Cole and Jelly Roll Morton.
Since your first appearance at Larmer Tree Festival your popularity has sky rocketed and you are now a household name across the country. How does it feel to have such a wide ranging fanbase, from more seasoned rockers to teenage groupies?
“It’s all good! It feels like a dream … but I’m afraid I’ll wake up one day with a really big hangover.”
Who are your most revered musicians and what do you find so inspiring about them?
“Mississippi Fred McDowell and Hank Williams. They meant what they was singing.”
Larmer Tree is famed for its beauty and wildlife with the resident family of peacocks and loved-up Macaws, if you had to choose, which bird would you rather be and why?
”Thunderbird … ha-ha”
What music are you listening to at the moment? Can you give us any tips on up and coming acts or hidden gems we may not have heard of?
What can we expect from your closing headline performance at Larmer Tree Festival?
“Lots of sweat and some fun.”
LARMER TREE LINE UP SO FAR:
Seasick Steve / Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra with special guest Sandie Shaw / Imelda May / Ozomatli / Asian Dub Foundation / Bellowhead / Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain / Seth Lakeman / Stornoway / Show of Hands / C W Stoneking / Caitlin Rose / Spiers and Boden / Krystle Warren / Jaipur Kawa Brass Band / The Coal Porters / Muntu Valdo / The Staves / Mama Rosin / Penny Black Remedy / The Dodge Brothers / Boppin’B / Skinny Lister / Moscow Drug Club / Buffalo Gals / Emily Portman / My First Tooth / Matthew and the Atlas / Polly and the Billets Doux / Kalakuta Millionaires / Goodnight Lenin / Rosie Doonan / ahab / Kitty Macfarlane / The Mopes / Disco’s Out (Murder’s In)
TICKETS available at www.larmertreefestival.co.uk/tickets.html