If you catch only one show this fall, catch CW Stoneking
â€œAcross almost 40 minutes Stoneking doesn’t put a finger or phrase wrong, moving magically from one perfectly crafted pastiche piece to another with a charm that’s more celebration than imitationâ€ Rolling Stone 4 stars
â€œA consummate entertainer, in between hokum, hillbilly and calypso renditions CW tells tales of his outback antics to an enraptured audience. Any possibility of songs becoming samey was alleviated by their call for a dance-off, inducing some unique experimental jives from the joyful crowdâ€ Dazed & Confused (UK)
â€œIn a music world dominated by cynical mediocrity CW Stoneking is beyond delightfulâ€ Mark Lamarr (BBC radio / TV)
â€œKing Hokum is a delight. Itâ€™s actually like delta blues have just been created by a bloke in Australia. This is real music, real blues and musicianship that can only come from being able to really play. The stand out album of the last half decadeâ€ Tim Ritchie, ABC Radio National Australia
â€œâ€˜Goin the Countryâ€™ as 1930s style piano and guitar blues duetâ€¦ made me sit bolt upright â€“ if the track had some snap, crackle and pop in the background I would have sworn it was a previously unknown 1930s blues recordingâ€¦ outstanding. Get your copy. Gâ€™wan â€“ amaze your chums!â€ Blues & Rhythm (UK) February 2008
â€œwith this album Stoneking makes Melbourne sound like Mississippiâ€ 10/10 Blues Wax (US)
Who is CW Stoneking and What is King Hokum:
A true entertainer and raconteur, CW Stoneking plays guitar like a demon, wears natty threads, hollers like a 1920s tent show blues shouter and mutters to himself onstage. Drawing inspiration from influences that include pre-war blues, hillbilly, old jazz and prison work songs, the idiosyncratic CW Stoneking is a revelation and a delight, invoking the spirit of the 1920s Deep South blues like heâ€™s just been beamed in from the past like a lost time traveller.
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Stoneking is an inimitable singer/songwriter, evoking an original and diverse hokum style, using his trusty steel bodied dobro, his tenor banjo and a three piece Primitive Horn Orchestra. His debut album, King Hokum, was ARIA-nominated for Best Blues and Roots Album (2007), and winner of the AIR Award for Best Independent Blues & Roots Release (2007).
King Hokum is set in a fictional 1920s Southern US town where dodo birds sing, hobos holler and handymen swing their axes in lone backyards. As the Sydney Morning Herald noted: â€œHis songs feel ancient and lived-in. His speaking voice is a drawling blend of laconic Australian and straw-chewing Arkansas. His manner is as laid-back as any country cliche. If itâ€™s a character, itâ€™s a character he seemingly lives 24 hours a day. A former girlfriend describes him as â€˜a bit of a mystery [but] heâ€™s a bit of a geniusâ€™.â€
The album was released in Europe via the Swiss Voodoo Rhythm label and CW Stoneking toured the continent and Britain during the summer of 2007, making waves at festivals and headline shows alike, while in Australia he has built up a fanatical following with his hugely charismatic and humour-laced live performances.
â€œThe blues is all different kinds of things,â€ he says, â€œso Iâ€™m happy to write a sad tune if Iâ€™ve got a good story, but I think to entertain, I donâ€™t just want to sing about sad things all the time.â€
Born to American parents in Katherine, Northern Territory, in 1974, CW was raised in the Aboriginal community of Papunya, (about 240 km northwest of Alice Springs). After his parents separated early on, his musical father raised him whilst teaching in the settlements. â€œI used to hear a lot of records from my dad with a lot of the 60s vocal groups from the States and things like that. He used to sing tunes with the guitar for me at bedtime when I was very small, like â€˜Candymanâ€™, and â€˜Froggie Went aâ€™Courtinâ€™.â€
It wasnâ€™t until after he moved to Balmain in Sydney aged 11 that Stoneking began learning guitar. His interest in the blues was sparked as a teenager after stumbling across some tapes of two country-blues legends; Blind Willie McTell and Memphis Minnie. Stonekingâ€™s music embraces Robert Johnson-esque delta and Mississippi blues, delivered with a voice soaked in sailorâ€™s rum, full of woe and redolent of the callous-worn, tough skin of hard-won experience, and apparently broadcast from a perfectly preserved 1920s crystal set.
Heâ€™s been called a hobo, local time traveller, fake and authentic with a reputation that travels faster than the man himself. Once seen, he is unforgettable.
â€œHeâ€™s a national treasure,â€ says Australian musical legend, J. Walker, who produced King Hokum. â€œThe first time I met him, I was amazed because he had a fob watch in his waistcoat and I remember thinking, this guyâ€™s straight out of the dust bowl of the 1930s. I think that style of music that he does is the bedrock of everything that came afterwards,â€ Walker adds, â€œIâ€™m just amazed that he exists because I never thought I’d see anything like it.â€