CW Stoneking | Preview
By Cara Gibney
CW Stoneking’s distinctive take on hokum blues, jazz, gospel, ragtime, and jungle music, hits the Black Box in Belfast on Saturday 25 June ’16.
Stoneking is the Australian whited-suited slicked back purveyor of fine slides, bends and blue notes, who writes and plays his own very original music, with a drawled croon and definite pre-war echo. But it isn’t that easy to timeline. “It ain’t bits of old music sticky-taped together, it’s all been made up fresh” he has been quoted as saying, and it’s true from first listen. This isn’t re-hashed old stuff for the fake crackly market. It is written by a man smitten by blues as a teenager, a devotee of legends like Blind Willie McTell, Bessie Smith and Jimmy Rodgers. But he moves beyond those signatures, makes his own rules and tells his own curious stories. He’s not claiming to be a curator or a collector of the old way. He’s merely been soaking it up for too long; it has to come out again somehow.
“I’m traveling with my new band from the USA” Stoneking told me about the show he’s intending to put on for us, and these touring compadres prove the point. Jessica Lee Wilkes for example, on bass and backing vocals, brought out her own rock and roll swinging album Lone Wolfe on Free Dirt Records last year. She is also a founding member of JD Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers – a high velocity nest of rockabilly blues. (JD Wilkes other manifestation The Legendary Shack Shakers played Voodoo last November).
“There is also Kendra Kilkuskie on drums and backing vocals, and Paula Henderson on baritone saxophone” he went on to explain about his all-female band. “We’re performing all the material from my most recent album, Gon’ Boogaloo’ (on Stoneking’s own King Hokum Records), a selection of songs from my Jungle Blues and King Hokum albums, and a couple of covers of songs I enjoy.”
He’s hitting Europe after his recent first tour of the U.S.; however he’s no stranger to these shores, having played Belfast at least twice before. Are the audiences much different here to those at home in Australia? “I don’t think it’s too different, I always enjoy playing in Ireland” he told me, before explaining why he didn’t play here in 2015.
“Well I always enjoyed my concerts in Ireland; I made a trip up this way last year through Europe and the U.K. But unfortunately some of my Irish shows fell through ahead of the tour and subsequently I wasn’t able to come at all. So this is my first chance to come play the latest material which is different than what we did last time we were there. I’m looking forward to it.”
Grab your tickets from Strange Victory Presents: Here