Seasick Steve performs at Bluesfest
FIVE years ago Seasick Steve made his British television debut.
Steven Wold (Seasick) played on the Jools Holland show in the UK and found himself with a legion of fans the next day.
At the time he was nearing 70 years old and had recorded his debut album two years earlier after recovering from a heart attack.
"After I got sick my wife encouraged me to play," he says.
"She wanted me to record some of the songs I'd been playin' my whole life.
"I think she thought I wasn't going to live much longer.
"I also think she wanted to give me something to do."
A friend of his from England, who ran a label and drove bands around, passed on the recording to a band he was driving to the Jools Holland show.
"I think what he said was 'you should check this guy out because he ain't gonna be round for long," Seasick says in his thick Southern accent.
Before he knew it he was playing on the show, but he was far from happy with the performance.
"It's kind of horrible to me," he says.
"I couldn't hear myself, it was a disaster to me.
"It was only when I got done throwing my guitar down and everyone was cheering.
"I certainly didn't think much about it."
Whatever he thought of it, Seasick has been touring ever since including sellout shows (including London's Royal Albert Hall) and festival slots around the world.
He's now signed to Jack White's Third Man Records, who recorded his fifth album, You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks.
White gave Seasick a hubcap on the way out of the studio one day, which he later made into a guitar.
"It's from a Hudson Terraplane," Seasick says.
"I have no idea why he had it or why he gave it to me.
"Maybe because I was playing Terraplane blues.
"As I was walking out the door he just handed it to me."
As his name became better known, Seasick says people suddenly started asking him to play all the time and as he didn't have any hubcap guitars on him one day, he decided to make one with the hubcap White gave him; as well as a garden hoe and a barbecue spatular.
After making instruments his whole life, and thinking nothing of it, he is still surprised when people are impressed by his handy work.
"I don't really make anything very good," he says.
"Nobody ever cared before. No one was asking me to play.
"But after I started getting better known people are like, 'wow'. They're not so wow at all.
"Most of the time it's a real challenge to play them; they keep me awake that's for sure."
Though he lived most of his life in America, Seasick became well known in Europe, where they started questioning his back story.
Weaved through his bluegrass, country, blues and folk, Seasick sings about his struggles, including living on the streets.
So how did he feel about people questioning his life?
"I don't give a shit," he says.
"You know it's the funny thing, in America it's nothing special to have a life wandering around. But in Europe they don't do that.
"No one ever cared what I did in my life. Yeah, I sing about being a bum - well, I was a bum.
"I don't care what they say. I couldn't believe anyone was listening to me."
Seasick Steve plays Bluesfest on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival.
Bluesfest is on at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm April 5-9.
For the line-up and ticketing head to bluesfest.com.au.