C.W. StonekingThere must be few folk left from our century who can play a live show and sound like this. Though it was a brisk Sunday evening in Brisbane, inside The Zoo we were humid and swaying somewhere in a cotton field from the 20’s.

C.W. Stoneking is the king of country blues, and it’s hard to believe he is truly of this time. With a nonchalant Australian/straw chewing drawl, his charm and manner go beyond just his stage persona. They say this man is the real deal. Though he’s currently based in Melbourne, C.W. was born in the Northern Territory and had a pretty remote upbringing, perhaps explaining the somewhat bizarre ye-olde allure. Be it an act or otherwise, his music is extraordinary and Brisbane’s sold-out prelude to his European tour was positively idyllic.

Accompanied by his Primitive Horn Orchestra, an assortment of guitars and the odd banjo, the set began with a bit of slow crooning and swooning. Eyes were closed and heads were rolling. Lots of tracks from the new Jungle Blues album were featured, and many a punter slid by the merch table to take a copy home (on vinyl no less!).

The band left for a solo interlude and the hokum continued. His stories and lyrics seem to carry a timeless quality and cast a warm enchantment over the room. Up the back people are grinding and floating across the floor; from the hip valley rocker set to grey jazz groovers, the audience is mesmerised. C.W.’s broad appeal must be in part due to the quality of musicianship and the ability to stand outside any specific genre. Until Stoneking I thought ‘Jungle Music’ was something from 90’s Drum and Bass raves. Turns out it actually refers to a racial slur used to describe African-American music up till the 50’s or so. Needless to say I’m glad he plays the latter.

At encore time the tempo was up and the entire room was dancing. Cheering continued for a good 10 minutes afterwards, till the man himself came out to sign CD’s and his eloquence up close even surpassed what was on stage.

People mingled downstairs back into Brisbane’s winter with placid smiles, taking the memory of some sultry calypso on to their respective Monday mornings.

Whoever this mysterious character really is, there’s no doubt C.W. Stoneking has earned his place as an absolute gem of Australian music.

C.W. Stoneking

Australian Tour Dates

The Gov
Wednesday July 7
www.moshtix.com.au, 1300 438 849 & Moshtix outlets | www.venuetix.com.au, 08 8225 8888 & Venue*Tix outlets | at the venue

Corner Hotel
Thursday July 8
www.cornerhotel.com | 03 9427 9198 | Corner box office

The Prince Bandroom
Friday July 9
www.princebandroom.com.au, 03 9536 1168 |  Prince of Wales public bar, Polyester Records (City & Fitzroy), Greville Records (Prahran)

Selina's at Coogee Bay Hotel
Saturday July 10
www.ticketek.com.au, 132 849 & Ticketek outlets | www.moshtix.com.au, 1300 438 849 & Moshtix outlets

The Zoo
Sunday July 11
www.thezoo.com.au, 1300 762 545 & all Oztix outlets

Most read Brisbane reviews

At this moment in our cultural history, as Australia emerges gradually from the restrictions...

Now playing Brisbane

More reviews by Tessa Leon