CW Stoneking - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

CW Stoneking - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2012-01-09

CW Stoneking was born in Katherine, Australia, a significant distance from the American Deep South and the site where Robert Johnston infamously allegedly sold his soul to the devil. One thing's for certain, however; CW Stoneking knows how to play the blues.

Stoneking brings his own unique style to the table with 50s rock ‘n’ roll, voodoo-boogie, and blues-country effortlessly sliding into the ever danceable mix. Make no mistake; this isn’t the kind of blues to sit quietly contemplating your own mortality to.

Before Stoneking takes to the stage, it’s time for Leeds’ very own The Holcombe Family String Band to transport us back to the 1920s, 30s and 40s with a selection of barn-dance worthy hoedowns. Dressed like they’ve stepped out of rural Mississippi and equipped with drums, violin, banjo, washboard, double-bass and guitar, the band play a mixture of ragtime, swing, and hot jazz.

It’s ridiculously infectious stuff as the band clatter through a set of beautiful, authentic and fun songs concerning booze, the devil and dancing. Along with the likes of The Devil's Jukebox, The Holcombe Family String Band offer a fully immerse experience in a time we all carry a kind of collective, cinematic nostalgia for. It’s an absolutely faultless performance and the ideal opening act for Stoneking.

CW Stoneking cuts quite an intimidating figure at first, tattooed hand dealing out raw blues riffs as his unflinching stare locks onto some uncertain middle distance. His voice crackles like so many old records and, like every blues singer, he looks like a man with a story to tell.

Stoneking’s raw guitar and blues growl is complimented by a drummer, a double-bass player, and two glamourous backing-singers. The songs rattle with joy and energy from the start, each track shaking and writhing through Stoneking’s brilliantly animated interpretation of the blues.

From Stoneking’s voice (Deep South drawl instead of his, presumably natural, Australian twang) to the clothes the band all wear; Stoneking and his band know a thing or two about performance and theatricalism. During the likes of ‘The Zombie’, the backing singers put in a joyfully committed performance as they scream, shout and wail through the song's various call-and-response sections. The likes of ‘Jungle Boogie’ and ‘Get on the Floor’ bring the ecstatic rock ‘n’ roll boogie while ‘Mama Got the Blues’ brings, well, the blues.

There’s undercurrents of Tom Waits in Stoneking’s wicked sense of humour and an appreciation of the ridiculousness of it all as he enters into a number of increasingly surreal (and very funny) monologues in-between songs. There’s something about the Bermuda Triangle, banjos as floatation devices and Jimmie Rodgers hair. In all honesty, I’ve forgotten most of these rambles, lost in the drink and sweaty dancing of a great night.

Comments (2)

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Hey, I saw this dude about 2 months ago just near where I live. It felt like I'd time-warped onto a cruise liner in the mid 30s.

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He lost his drawl a couple of times, and lapsed into an Aussie accent, but overall its a great ruse !

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