Beautiful Days Festival
For two old geezers they are making a great shit kicking racket.
A razor sharp blues of such simplicity and brilliance you wonder why no-one thought of doing it all again like this before. Dressed in worker denim and baseball hats there is a blur of faded material and faded years and greasy, grey trucker beards that give their kicking out the jams the warm glow of picture postcard authenticity.
Seasick Steve is sat on a chair stomping and yellering his plaintive, stripped down music whilst Dan Magnusson is playing an incredable drum assualt- a clattering machine of propulsive brilliance that really drives this music along. At some points he becomes the main focal point and further proof that in a two piece band there can be no passengers and that the drummer really has to have their shit together to make this whole damn jam really work
Shrouded in myth and mystery Seasick Steve is the hobo who wandered around middle America look for work and licks in the sixties and seventies and found fame and fortune as a wisened story teller that was connected to the mainstream by Jools Holland on his comfy music show. By his own definition a hobo is someone who travels looking for work, a tramp is someone who travels avoiding work and a bum is someone who doesnt travel and is not looking for work and it turns out the hobo who was also a record producer, a rootless wanderer who engineered Modest Mouse records in the nineties and was friends of Joni Mitchell in the seventies. It’s this blur between a musical relaisty and a hobo yearning that is fascinating and is central to his whole performance- kinda like the same stunt that Tom Waits pulled for years as the 72 year old sits on stage playing his home made guitars with the razor sharp incisiveness of a blues disciple.
Seaside Steve’s headline slot is warmly received and goes down far better than Steve Earle’s set the night before- where Earle’s perfunctory and slick performance of trad America emptied the field-the warmth and human touch of Seasick Steve stretches like a well worn denim work-suit across the whole field enveloping it with its Levi authenticity and the heartbeat that captivated America with the 12 bar boogie clipped to perfection.
It’s the very emptiness in their sound that creates the edge- the space between the drums and guitar that somehow manages to make the sound of two old geezers jamming on a porch work in the big arena. They somehow turn the whole festival site into their own personal hoe down and their surprisingly high energy raw blues pastiche is the perfect festival ender.