The Gloves Are Off, But the Sound Is On

By Hailey Nuthals, Highlighter Editor

If you think Australia is a bit of a strange place to foster a thriving blues scene, well, you’d be pretty right – at least according to one of the foremost blues musicians to come out of Down Under, CW Stoneking. Stoneking’s sound is a ripping, raucous style that could have come straight out of the Midwestern United States back in the heyday of the genre, but he’s updated it with his own influences – doo-wop, punk, and girl-groups, to name a few. His career has been growing steadily, and this summer, he’s coming on tour to the United States. WSN recently had the chance to speak with him about the what he’s been up to, and what hopes to get up to soon.

WSN: It sounds like recording your latest album, “Gon’ Boogaloo,” was quite the process – you only recorded it using two mics, and did the whole thing in two days. Do you think that’s a recording style you’ll continue to use, or was it more specific to what you wanted to do with that record?

CW: Well, it was sort of an accident, how it came about. But I did quite enjoy a lot of things about it. I hate mixing records, so when you’ve only got two knobs, then at the end, you can mix an album in a day. I probably would try and do it again, but I would play with it a bit, because that was the first time I’ve done something like that. And as I’ve said, it sort of came about as we were working. I discovered a lot of things over the course of those two days, about how you need to handle things when recording and things like that. So a bit more planning, I hope, and more than two days to do it, I would do it again, sure.   

WSN: What are you most looking forward to on this US tour? Do you have any special stops you plan to make along the way?

CW: Well, I’m sort of interested in a lot of areas, really. I’ve played a lot of smaller areas touring in past years, so I’m just not trying to get too fat. I want to check out the different cities and not to buy too many guitars and things like that. I’ve not had a very good year – I’ve already bought myself another guitar.

WSN: Well, hopefully you get just the right amount of guitars, then.

CW: Yeah, I need to make some money to get some people to carry them for me.

WSN: Do you feel that the Australian blues scene is going strong? Changing? How, and in what ways?

CW: Well, as far as a blues scene goes, I wouldn’t think it goes very good. But I wouldn’t know, because really early on, when I was a young fellow, and I didn’t know any better, I thought that the blues scene was where someone who was interested in blues should try and direct their energy. I was kinda shunned early on because I wasn’t the flavor of blues that was popular back then. So my career has grown outside of that scene entirely, and they didn’t have anything there… I couldn’t speak very highly of the music that comes from that, unfortunately. I think the scenes like them with one time of music just have to blame themselves, they’re a bit small-minded, you know.

WSN: It makes sense since blues is sort of such a particularly regional sound.

CW: It’s a particular regional sound, but there’s no need to hack it off like a Civil War surgeon into its own little parts. It’s made up of the same things as everything else. It’s a human being expressing themself, it’s rhythm and harmony and melody, so I don’t know why it has to be handled with white cotton gloves.

WSN: Do you have any plans for yourself after the US tour ends?

CW: Well, I’m off to Europe for a month, and then we’re coming back to the US  in July, and we’ll be there pretty much for the remainder of the year. That’s about it, really… It’s a lot of touring this year, being on the road a lot.

CW Stoneking is playing at Rough Trade NYC on May 26th and the Mercury Lounge  on the 27th. Find him on Facebook | Twitter | Website

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