This artist performed at the VFMF in 2016
C.W. Stoneking (Australia)
Vividly remembering being eleven years old and stumbling across Living With The Blues, an early blues compilation, in his father’s collection at home in Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, C.W. Stoneking recalls at first being bemused. But the more he listened to it, the more he liked it. By the time he was in his teens, he’d fallen in love with the blues.
Soon his curiosity led him to Son House, Robert Johnson, Skip James and Bukka White, gospel blues, Chicago blues, ragtime, Hokum blues – each sub-genre revealing more amazing music. There was an endless universe of blues to explore, one so much more interesting to him than the mundane world of late ’80s pop.
Fast forward a few years and C.W. has taught himself the banjo and electric guitar, but his prized possession is a 1931 National Duolian dobro – the same instrument that Blind Boy Fuller and other blues legends chose to play. “I liked it because it was loud,” Stoneking says. “I knew all the old blues guys who used to busk used them, and it was for a good reason.”
While a brilliant musician passionate about the music he plays, C.W. enjoys the lighter side of performing too. He has a larger-than-life stage presence, beginning with his dapper outfits: tropical whites, a bowtie and slicked-back hair, and he tells a lot of stories onstage. His busking days taught him well: the first thing is to entertain. C.W. writes and performs all his own songs – he’s made it his mission to move the music forward while maintaining the authenticity that makes it unique. He even draws influences from old calypso, early rock ’n’ roll, ’60s girl groups, late-’50s R’n’B and gospel, among many other styles and genres. His lyrics are colourful and sometimes fanciful, but they’re underpinned by personal experience – and always entertaining.