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CW Stoneking – A Rare Solo Performance
C.W. Stoneking fell in love with the blues when he was in his teens. Born in Katherine, in Australia’s remote Northern Territory, CW was the son of an American school teacher with a passion for music. He vividly remembers being eleven years old and stumbling across Living With The Blues, an early blues compilation, in his father’s collection: “When I first heard it I thought it was kinda funny music”, he told a Dutch interviewer a few years ago, “because it was so deconstructed and not really adhering to any rules that I’d been told music [should] fit into. And the more I listened to it, I just liked it more and more.” Soon his curiosity led him to Son House, Robert Johnson, Skip James and Bukka White, gospel blues, Chicago blues, ragtime, Hokum blues, with each sub-genre revealing more amazing music. It seemed like there was an endless universe of blues to explore, one that was much more interesting to Stoneking than the mundane world of late ’80s pop that was all around him at the time.
Flash forward a few years and CW has taught himself the banjo and electric guitar, but his prized possession is a 1931 National Duolian dobro. This was same instrument that Blind Boy Fuller and other blues legends chose to play. “I liked it because it was loud,” Stoneking says, “When I first started playing old blues it wasn’t so easy to get a gig, and I spent a lot of time busking and things like that…I knew all the old blues guys who used to busk used them and it was for a good reason.” Although he’s a brilliant musician he enjoys the lighter side of performing as well. He has a larger-than-life stage presence, beginning with his dapper outfit: tropical whites, a bowtie and slicked-back hair. He exhibits a sly diffidence in his between-song patter too, “I tell a lot of stories onstage,” Stoneking tells me, “and then I tend to ramble. I talk that sort of stuff just for my own entertainment.” His busking experiences taught him well: the first rule is to entertain, after that it’s plain sailing