Seasick Steve laughs as he explains the title of his latest album Can U Cook? “Can you cook?” he asks. “You know, do you got something going there or are you just thinking about yourself all the time?

“Can you cook being a gentleman? Can you cook in the bed? Can you rock? Can you cook?!”

It’s typical Steve – the country-rocking bluesman who has spent a life well lived on the road, and is reported to have lived in 59 houses since marrying his second wife in the 1980s. Heaven knows how many more addresses he had before then. His age is a matter of conjecture but is thought to be about 78.

On Saturday he plays the New Theatre Oxford as part of his first full UK headline tour in three years. It follows a European tour.

“These are the best shows we’ve ever done and we’re on fire as a band,” he says with no discernible hint of modesty but plenty of conviction. Really, we feel like the best live band in the world right now.”

The story of the artist – real name Steven Wold – is well documented and unique. Taught to play the blues as a child by a mechanic at his grandfather’s garage, he left home at the age of 13 to get away from his violent stepfather.

He lived rough in the Deep South, living the life of a hobo, catching lifts on freight trains and picking up seasonal work on farms.

In the ‘60s he immersed himself in the music world, touring and performing as a blues guitarist and working on the West Coast as a session musician, studio engineer and producer – working with the likes of Modest Mouse and other indie bands from the Pacific North West. He also travelled oversees, busking on the Paris Metro and releasing his debut album in Norway.

He was given his maritime nickname by a friend after a particularly nauseating ferry ride between Norway and Denmark. He admits to not being a great sailor.

He found fame late in life. In the UK his breakthrough came on Jools Holland’s New Year’s Eve Hootenanny 12 years ago. He played the song Dog House Boogie on his trusty-three-stringed guitar he calls the Three String Trance Wonder.

He stomped out a rhythm on a percussion box called the Mississippi Drum Machine – held together with gaffer tape embellished with a Mississippi license plate.

His ‘real’ earthy blues struck a chord and he became a massive hit, winning the 2007 MOJO Award for Best Breakthrough Act and playing major festivals including Glastonbury and Reading and Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park. That success has been emulated across the world. His 2008 major-label debut, I Started Out with Nothin and I Still Got Most of It Left, released by Warner, cat number nine and went platinum. He has had six more albums, four in the top 10.

Next Friday he releases live favourite The Last Rodeo as a single.

“That song... it’s very specific,” he says: “It came to me. I was in a parking lot in Norway and a car hit me, not hard, but it hit me. And it was one of these electric cars. I thought: “I’m going to get killed by an electric car!” And then I went home and wrote Last Rodeo.”

Produced and written by Steve, Can U Cook? was mostly recorded in a converted dock ice house in Key West, Florida with his drummer Dan Magnusson a.k.a. Crazy Dan (“the guy’s dangerous but he’s a nice fella, he’s just a little bit loopy”) and guitarist Luther Dickinson of The North Mississippi Allstars, and ex of The Black Crowes (“the greatest living slide guitar player... he’s crazy too, he fits right in”).

Their waterside Florida studio works well.

“Right at the harbour is where the actual studio was,” he says. “There’s the boats, and there’s a place called Conch Republic, which is a restaurant. We could throw a rock from the studio into that place. And the studio’s an old ice house. The boats would come in to collect ice to keep the keep shrimp cold. And then Jimmy Buffett, in the ‘80s, made it into a studio, and it’s right there on the harbour”.

“Can U Cook? was made down south, way down south, as far south as you can go and still have your boots in America,” he adds.

“I love it and I’m hoping y’all like it too.”

  • Seasick Steve plays the New Theatre Oxford on Saturday. Tickets from