Reviewed on Saturday June 1
On a rainy night in Sydney, C.W. Stoneking was dressed all in white, his hair neatly oiled, with a golden Telecaster slung across his shoulder. Early in the set, Kitty and Daisy Durham (of Kitty, Daisy & Lewis) joined the Katherine-born bluesman and his band on stage for a sterling combination of their country songs (‘Going Up The Country’ and ‘Goin’ The Country’ respectively) before staying to provide everything from harmonies, to harmonica, to a sprinkling of sass. His wry humour and easy charm were the perfect complement to his dustbowl tales.
Taking the stage after almost a year away, with some shiny new guitars, the jungle man declared, “I thought I’d try something different” – leaving his old gear, banjo and all on a boat for three months. Electric Stoneking still delivered the goods – the cheeky ‘She Was A Bread Baker’ accompanied only by Kitty on harmonica was a mid-set highlight. He also played a new song, ‘I’m The Jungle Man’, which was a more electric C. W. than previously heard, but a fun jive none the less. He regaled the swaying audience for almost two hours and they threw back cheers, whistles and a well-deserved standing ovation as tokens of their appreciation.
For an encore, Stoneking came back onstage with his band and the Durham gals, saying “we’ve played all the songs on the list, but we’ve got a couple’ party numbers,” leading the audience in the shout-along chorus of ‘Them Good Old Cabbage Greens’. It was a rocking, raucous way to end a fun and funny set by a man who is the blues personified.
C.W. Stoneking looks and sounds like he’s a character from another age entirely. It would be easy to write off his act on paper as a joke or parody, but when he’s standing on stage singing the ‘Jungle Blues’, you can’t help but believe he’s the real deal.
BY NATALIE AMAT
*Photo: Prudence Upton