CW Stoneking

CW Stoneking

To hear him say it, CW Stoneking has led a pretty simple, low key existence.

“I’ve put out a few records, travelled around a bit, just have a new record out now and I’m coming to Cairns to do a show on November 1”, he said matter-of-factly.

In reality, he is an accomplished musician, playing a style of blues music that was seemingly lost in the swamps of Mississippi and only channeled rarely through a limited number of musicians borne to that landscape.

His first album, King Hokum was released in 2006 and was nominated for an ARIA in 2007 for Best Blues/Roots Album and won the Best Independent Blues Release Award in the same year.

His follow up, Jungle Blues, won the Best Independent Blues/Roots award in 2008 which led to sellout tours across the UK, Europe and Australia and a slot on the legendary Later….. With Jools Holland show.

Now, some six years later, he has released ‘Gon Boogaloo’, another slice of history from this accomplished Australian bluesman.

“To go and party,” was his simple explanation for the album title, a nonchalant response that was typical throughout the interview.
When asked whether or not he was worried he might lose fans or if he was worried people would forget him after a long absence, he brushed the notion off fairly easily.

“I did, but I was just very busy with other things so it took a while to get all my songs together. If I lost any fans in that period then I guess they weren’t really a fan. There’s not 100 people going around making the same music as me so it’s not like they had many options!” he laughed.

While ‘Jungle Blues’ had its roots in the 1920’s with its horn section and dirty swamp blues, ‘Gon Boogaloo’ has endured a natural progression, with the style and groove of the music based more in the ‘40’s era and beyond.

“I just really wanted to play the electric guitar on the next record,” Stoneking admitted.

“So that straight away changes the sound a bit, even if you are playing something with a horn section it sounds completely different with an electric guitar behind it, but all I wanted to do really was play electric and the record grew from there. I guess Jungle Blues had an early ‘20’s sort of an inspiration whereas this one’s more like a ‘40’s, ‘50’s and early ‘60’s vibe.”

The album was recorded using old fashioned methods as well, recorded and mixed live in just two days.

“It’s a simply recorded record and they probably haven’t made them like that for a while,” Stoneking said, “but it was partially choice and partly circumstance because there was a few bugs and a couple of gremlins running around the studio that made a couple of the machines stop working so we ended up deciding to do it very basically with only the two microphones.”

It is very rare that a musician can capture a feel for and a vibe of an era and period of time to which he has no physical connection, but again Stoneking is candid when it comes to his ability to do so beautifully.

“It’s something I got into when I was young and I found it interesting from a musical point of view,” he explained. “The way people played guitar back in those days was unique. They were highly advanced guitar players the old blues guys. Back in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s they played it like it was a piano or something!”

“People all over the world are making music no matter their location. If you spend 20 years listening to a type of music and playing it then you can speak in that language I guess. It’s like if you watch French movies on T.V all your life you could probably speak in French rather well.”

Perhaps one of Stoneking’s better known songs, much to his displeasure, is a version of the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’, a cover which he was asked to do for JJJ.

“They had a segment called ‘Like a Version’ that they sent me an e mail for asking me to cover something modern and they suggested White Stripes as an example and that was the only song of theirs I was familiar with. Unfortunately it seems to be the only song of mine that gets played on JJJ now which I can’t really understand because it sounds just as old fashioned, if not more so, than my original stuff.”
For his upcoming Cairns show, Stoneking gets his wish of playing the electric guitar and stripping things back a little.

“I’m coming up with the band from the new album,” he enthused. “We will be playing the entire new album plus some stuff from Jungle Blues and maybe one or two from my first record. The older stuff has of course been reworked because I’m without a horn section but it still sounds pretty cool. The electric guitar has taken over most of the horn bits and it makes for a quite crazy sort of rocking three piece band with the girls on back-ups.”

Kris Peters

CW Stoneking plays the Tanks on November 1 with support from Sian Evans. Tickets are $30/$25 concession and can be bought through or via 1300855835

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