Can U Cook?


Rough around the edges. That’s how Steven Gene Wold aka Seasick Steve refers to himself on the tune “Last Rodeo.” And that’s how his innumerable his fans like him. The Oakland-born musician, now in his late sixties or late seventies depending on the source, has achieved gold and platinum status in the United Kingdom despite being largely overlooked in the United States. He boasts of a past that includes long stints of manual labor, hoboing and flat-out living on the streets. Those experiences continue to inform his music, often played on a battered guitar he calls the Three-String Trance Wonder. He’s been doing pretty much the same shtick since his breakthrough as a solo artist with 2006’s Doghouse Music, offering a gritty, lowdown, sometimes tongue-in-cheek outlaw blues with occasional forays into Americana and classic rock. So with every new Seasick Steve album, you kind of know what to expect. The crazy thing is – it works! On Can U Cook?, his tenth album overall, even more so than usual. Wold has come up with an exceptionally strong batch of songs this time, from the swampy, CCR-esque “Down de Road” to the Howlin’ Wolf-inspired “Shady Tree” to the wistful “Last Rodeo,” on which he decries the slickness of modern culture. As always, his playing is effective without being flashy and is propelled by the infectious and intricate grooves of drummer Dan Magnusson. A must for fans. – VA

SONG PICK: The darker-than-dark “Chewin’ on da Blues.”

WoW #7: Mike Zito (with Anders Osborne) – “I Was Drunk”

Mike Zito (with Anders Osborne) – “I Was Drunk”

Mike Zito excels through honesty. Instead of trotting out worn clichés, with each new song he opens a window to his soul and allows us a glimpse of what’s going on inside. In his 46 years, Zito has been there and done that, and he wants to let us know what the experience was like, whether it was good, bad or ugly.

He’s been uniquely candid about the addiction issues that sabotaged his early efforts to make it professionally. In the past ten years, hopeful songs such as “Keep Coming Back” and “One Step At A Time” have appeared like signposts to mark his way along the recovery journey.

“I Was Drunk,” written together with Anders Osborne – a man who has dealt with similar problems – takes a darker tack in exploring the misery and self-destructiveness of alcoholism.

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