C.W. Stoneking

It’s probably easiest to describe him as a ‘blues artist,’ but the term disguises what makes his music special. There’s so much in there. A 1920s pre-war blues sound is key, but there’s almost equal helpings of New Orleans jazz, jug band music, hokum, country, and calypso; and he’s lately brought in elements of jump jive, early rock’n’roll, and gospel. This master of many talents will be taking his sound to Blues on Broadbeach for a debut performance, and he is not an act you want to miss.

C.W. Stoneking’s gift is that he brings it all together without anything sounding out of place. He finds the strands that connect these different styles and gently braids them together. It’s what he values more than anything. After charming his audiences with acoustic parlour guitars, National resonators, tenor banjos and a band laden with brass on his first two albums, he dropped all of that to go electric with his latest, 2014’s Gon’ Boogaloo, which was all about his Fender Jazzmaster and doo-wop backing vocals.

He has the air of an old vaudeville master, a carnival caller or maybe a market huckster. It’s probably easy to tell that a common thread in Stoneking’s music is his humour; it’s one thing that makes him stand out from the crowd, whether it be sly innuendo, ridiculous sitcom or his particular knack for extended conversations between fictional friends – the man holds a whole pantheon of personalities under his stylish fedora and slicked-back hair. Simply put, he’s just not so bloody earnest all the time, which is a breath of fresh air.

How does Australia impact on his sound? Maybe his music doesn’t sound Australian, but those experiences as an Australian in Deep South America have informed the sound: that never-quite-real landscape he heard in the voices of blues masters certainly does emanate from his own.

There was a six-year gap between his second and third albums, and It’s already been six years since then. Who really knows what is next in store for C.W. Stoneking? Band or solo? Electric or acoustic? Old – time blues or some other star in that constellation… Stoneking x Kanye? No idea. All that can really be certain is that it won’t be what you’re expecting.

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