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Country Blues => Saturday Night Fish Fry => Topic started by: Norfolk Slim on September 09, 2010, 03:20:55 AM

Title: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Norfolk Slim on September 09, 2010, 03:20:55 AM
I'd heard the name a few times, but hadn't seen or heard much of what he did myself.  With the wife away for a few days, and a drinking partner available (occasional weenie- "Harvey") I went along to see CW Stoneking at Thekla in Bristol.  The venue was great- an old steel boat moored permanently at the docks- which added to the atmosphere considerably.

There has been some controversy about what CW does and suggestions that the manner in which he adopts the persona of a black rural musician from the 20s (southern drawl, dialect and all) is, coming from a white Australian, offensive.  Having now seen his show for myself, I'm not going to say any more than this:

For me, Stoneking chooses to evoke a sound and atmosphere of another age, and he does so by playing a role.  In the opening number the vocal felt somewhat contrived, but I quickly bought into what he was doing and enjoyed it for what it was- an accomplished and loving recreation.  I found it no more offensive than the persona Leon Redbone plays.  In fact much of what he did reminded me of Redbone quite strongly.  Notably his natural voice is actually very similar to how he sings, only the accent appears to change slightly to achieve the effect required.

I really enjoyed the gig- it was certainly not like anything I have seen before.  The band consisted of a trombone, trumpet, drums and a double bass (and occasionally sousaphone).  Stoneking played a single cone National Resophonic and a (wonderful sounding) 6 string banjo into a microphone, but it was very much the vocal and the big overall sound that took centre stage.  The brass section (well, pair) were fantastic, moving seemlessly from big "party" horn sounds, to dirty New Orleans' growl.

Stoneking did a few of numbers alone including a couple of self penned delta tunes out of C and G and his playing style (which is not particularly intricate, but solid) and vocal really suited, giving an almost Patton-like sound and timbre.  We'd have liked to see a bit more of that type of tune, but we were soon back to the big noise, the excellent wailing horns and what JohnM would describe as "heavy time".

Good fun and I'm glad I went.  He won't be to everyone's taste, but I'd certainly go again.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Prof Scratchy on September 09, 2010, 03:47:49 AM
Glad you were brave enough to bring this up, Slim! I saw CW in Glasgow last week and he and the band were superb. I don't think his voice is any more contrived than that of any non US native, and he has a husky timbre that works really well. His self penned songs in the style of early jazz, hokum, blues and calypso were brilliant. His storytelling is witty and very funny. And his blues playing is excellent. The audience, apart from yours truly, comprised mostly younger folk - and as  I was pointing out to Parlor Picker in a wee facebook exchange we had on the matter, it was refreshing to see twenty- and thirty-somethings grooving to Tommy Maclennan, played with an authenticity that made you feel like Tommy was in the room! Now, I take on board your point that what CW does may not be to everyone's taste, and he certainly didn't do himself any favours in the Weenie debacle of a couple of years ago. But I'd say: don't knock him till you've tried him in live performance, with that wonderful band lovingly and respectfully recreating the sounds of an earlier time. It's what many of us here try to do, isn't it?
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Norfolk Slim on September 09, 2010, 04:04:07 AM
My sentiments exactly.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Pan on September 09, 2010, 04:31:57 AM
Thanks for the review guys.

He'll be in Berlin on the 20th, I'll try to go and see him myself.

Cheers

Pan
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: harvey on September 09, 2010, 04:49:39 AM
I found the midnight stroll round Bristol looking for somewhere to eat more interesting but that is another story for another day.  :D

Really enjoyed it too, good venue and the band were excellent. I will sit on the fence regarding his singing, I am not quite sure if I liked it or not but it is just a taste thing. The overall sound was great and a great song selection, I have never been keen on those talking parts at that start of songs, but it was well done I have to say.

Just another comment on his singing that I never really thought about till day after the show, maybe it was my perception but he seemed to get a lot of volume without moving his mouth much (?)








Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Norfolk Slim on September 09, 2010, 05:05:52 AM
For the record- my feet hurt like hell today....
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Richard on September 09, 2010, 06:47:34 AM
Quote
I found the midnight stroll round Bristol looking for somewhere to eat more interesting but that is another story for another day.

Harvey, where did you go, The Bunch Of Grapes in St Nicholas S :ot

The gig sounds interesting musically, as for the Thekla it used be right sod to get a drum kiton and off years ago!
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Mr.OMuck on September 09, 2010, 06:54:45 AM
Quote
Thekla it used be right sod to get a drum kiton and off

Translation please ;)
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Parlor Picker on September 09, 2010, 08:18:55 AM
Quote
Thekla it used be right sod to get a drum kiton and off

Translation please ;)

Please adopt 'posh' British accent:
If one is playing a concert at the Thekla auditorium in the ancient British city of Bristol and one happens to be the percussionist in the orchestra, it can be extremely taxing manoeuvring one's drumkit on and off the stage.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Mr.OMuck on September 09, 2010, 08:23:00 AM
I was flummoxed by the word "kiton" I suppose drum should have been a giveaway :-*
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: slideaway on September 09, 2010, 05:19:25 PM
yeah i'm blown away by the packed houses of youngsters he manages to generate too! not many if any blues/jazz acts command that sort attention in these parts.. cw's outback RURAL NT accent is about as strong as an aussie accent gets, but he does have a US connection still, like some other well known aussie roots ... to me i pick up a Tom Waits influence/element in what he is doing, maybe the hipness part?, tom Waits is still a very big and very hip star/legend down here, and he is certainly no Black musician from the 1920's as far as i know
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: wheresthedrama on September 09, 2010, 06:12:34 PM
knowing something about cw stoneking lineage would be useful to those of you who seem to think roots and origins are important - which i think they are. stoneking is the son of the american poet/filmmaker and teacher, billy marshall stoneking and the writer/poet paty marshall stace, who came to australia in 1972 and stayed. billy's parents are both from west virginia and paty's from pennsylvania. their grandparents were working class people that some used to unflatteringly refer to as hillbillies. most of the stoneking and marshall families still reside in the hills of west virginia, mainly in grafton. for more info on cw's paternal family see http://www.stonekingbio.webs.com added to this, cw grew up on an aboriginal settlement - from the age of 4 to 9 - at a place called papunya, 275 kms west, northwest of alice spirings. indeed, he was born in katerine northern territory during the great flood of '74 and had to be evacuated from the katernine hospital as the river was licking at the backdoor - cw's love of music and his electic dedication to the varioius styles he plays are soldly grounded in his genealogy.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: slideaway on September 09, 2010, 07:08:55 PM
sorry to hijack this thread.. but this theme of political correctness (from the country that has always to me, appeared to pride itself on lack of political correctness (you know that european effection) i have detected an undertone of for some time in sites like this, and on youtube comments, little digs of preciousness all over the place, ...
wheres it all going? is certain genres of music going to be protected species/brands like champagne can only come from champagne region of france, sparkling wine to the rest of us, gouda and the rest cheese's .. well it cheeses me off a little  >:D
discuss  :P
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Mr.OMuck on September 09, 2010, 08:21:45 PM
Actually we've done this topic to death already, and I doubt there's more of substance to add. Check out what's already been said.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: slideaway on September 09, 2010, 08:43:58 PM
what search words do i use? cw stoneking? how far back do i need to go? i am newish to weenie
the topic may be old hat around, but i still experience the attitude almost daily, so nothing has been resolved? just seems to be getting worse to me..
cheers
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: slideaway on September 09, 2010, 09:20:26 PM
ah yes i see cw soneking is definitely one to use  >:D
still doesnt change the fact, maybe just register blues and jazz ect. as world copywrited genre regional specific brand names and maybe get it over with? we'll have the 'sparkling music' moniker?  :P well thats my pot stirring for the day! dont worry we get it from our own compatriots too

all the more reason to sing the blues! viscous cycle - thats why i love the genre, no shortage of inspiration  :)
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Michael Cardenas on September 13, 2010, 04:16:00 PM
Stoneking and Jeff Lang for that matter are two of the finest Blues acts the wonderful nation of Australia has to offer, fair dinkum.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: slideaway on September 14, 2010, 06:14:51 PM
ok i feel bad now, taking it out on the good people of weenie C... who never did nothin to deserve that bad mannered rant.. i blame the meds  :)  not to say that it doesnt happen and it isnt real..
apologies to all and norfolk slim
keep on rockin weenies
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Doc White on November 09, 2010, 08:18:26 PM
As one who defended CW against vociferous criticism a couple of years back - all I can say is ...quality will always win out. Evidence of CW crossover appeal - he recently signed with Jack White's production company and has appeared on a Paul Mcartney tribute.
And then there is this review:

Friday, September 03, 2010 
 Americana UK - Live Review
 
 
 
C.W. Stoneking - The Borderline, London - 3rd August 2010

Review by Jonathan Aird

The unexpected pleasure of going to a gig you thought (for a long time) you couldn't make, and a gig that had been on my wish list for about 18months - Australia's C.W. Stoneking purveyor of the finest and purest hokum blues and jungle rhythms. But first, the supports. Stephen Smyth, another Australian, cut a messianic Jim Morrison figure with his biblical prophet's beard and moustaches. This was perfect for his roared blues over a raucous electric guitar and thunder crack foot stomping. He wasn't aping Morrison but he had that feel about him - wild powerful primal singing but fortunately without the drunken bozo aspects between songs. I was impressed; with a suitable band he would be devastating.

Second up was Nigel Burch on banjolele with violinist Dylan Bates, with a set of Bohemian music hall songs crossed with a ranting poet. The kind of thing that you either love or don't. Dylan Bates was an excellent improviser and had excellent little hippy dances.

C.W. Stoneking and his four piece band took the stage about 9:30. Stoneking resplendent in an all white outfit and a red bow tie, slicked back hair and bearing a tenor banjo and a metal bodied national guitar. I have strong feelings about the tenor banjo, but Stoneking more than any other performer is breaking these down.

There followed an authentic hokum jazz blues calypso experience. And not authentic in some overly precise and overly reverential way. Stoneking and his band play the music as if it's brand new, hot off the street. Of course they love this style of music - but not in the way that want to recreate it - this is a newly created music and therefore vibrant and powerful. Uplifting, amusing, unlikely and stomping the way it should be. And then there's Stoneking's voice - th e thickest mumbliest voice you are ever likely to encounter, as he regales us with unlikely tales of his adventures on the highs seas, or duets with himself. Add on top of this the stare - the disconnected 1,000 yard unblinking stare and the off mike mumbling as he manoeuvres himself through the instrumental breaks. It's magical.

A set almost an hour and half long, devoid of weak songs, and with some real standouts like Dodo Blues, The Love Me And Die and Don't Go Dancin' Down The Dark Town Strutters Ball. This last is introduced over eerie banjo before the band joins in with a strident New Orleans' jazz band funeral march. And although it's all wrapped up in pure hokum there's still the thrill of the melancholy menace in the opening chorus - "you gotta laugh, you gonna laugh real hard when she takes her love away / you gonna cry, take a look at yourself, there ain't nothin' you can say".

It's hard to believe that Dodo Blues isn't actually a cover with it's wonderful lilting lyric as sung (perhaps !) by the last ever Dodo bird - "Nothing, nothing can be right, when everything is wrong. Nothing can be wrong when I'm walking with my baby - I wish that I was". That Dodo sure has got the blues, but it's a pure sing-along joy.

And it was during one number, without the band, just Stoneking picking raw blues on the resonator guitar that it struck home that this was nearer to Robert Johnson than Eric Clapton has ever been - it's not just about technical mastery, it's about the feeling. And that's what C.W. Stoneking has, in bucket loads. 


Read more: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=57462546&blogId=538805034#ixzz14qkYzP6q
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Norfolk Slim on November 10, 2010, 01:54:25 AM
He's very good at what he does.  Im not entirely sure that a connection with Jack White is an accolade, but well done to him for getting on and making a decent living playing music he loves.

The review is interesting.  I had to smile at the rather crass Robert Johnson comparison given that (1) CW sounds nothing like Johnson in any way whatsoever; and (2) Clapton never got near Robert Johnson himself, even when using two guitars to do it! 

I shall just smugly enjoy knowing more about the genre than the journalist >:D

That said, when he strips the tunes down he does get a very swampy and authentic delta sound, and the writing is really spot on such that you'd be hard pushed to tell when the tunes were actually written. There are a couple of his tunes I'm seriously tempted to have a go at.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: blueshome on November 10, 2010, 02:01:20 AM
OK Slim but not in a voice like a 3rd rate ventriloquist please...........
At least he's out there putting the music in front of people I suppose.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Norfolk Slim on November 10, 2010, 02:05:15 AM
Ooo now you've done it Phil! ;)

What struck me, actually, was that his natural speaking voice was very much like his performing voice, bar the accent.  But dont worry, I cant do that sort of voice even if I try.  I'd just have a coughing fit.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Doc White on November 10, 2010, 03:40:41 AM
On another point entirely. A friend of mine just bought CW's National Tricone. CW strings it 16 - 59, tuned to pitch with an action a slide player would be pleased to have. Says he needs it to be heard above the horn section, given he only plays through a mike. Hands like a gorilla to play that thing.
Title: Re: CW Stoneking- Bristol, Uk.
Post by: Doc White on November 10, 2010, 03:52:21 AM
I don't think the reviewer was saying CW sounded like Robert Johnson only that he got closer (ie was more authentic sounding) than Eric Clapton. Fair call in my book.

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