Fringe Review – CW Stoneking

Adelaide Fringe Review – CW Stoneking @ The Spiegeltent, 15 March 2009

Society loves a personality that is seemingly bigger than the frame in which it is carried  – individuals with a specifically tailored functional reality that invites a response from peers and public.  They are not necessary fictional, but rather an amplification of select traits of real individuals, and executed such that the character is self-sustaining and independent. They truly have a life of their own.

This is of course nothing new.  Artists and intellectuals have been indulging in literary creations as living breathing expressions of the Self for centuries  – authors such as Giacomo Casanova being an adept at exaggerating his own adventures, and his character being all the richer for it. But how many of them can truly use Casanovas reflective self-epitaph “I have lived”?

The personality under scrutiny tonight is Mr CW Stoneking, the son of noted playwright and poet Billy Marshall Stoneking.  If there are any inherited sins of the father, then it is the ability to tell a tale or two.  His songs are back stories. A musical biography.  Ship wrecks off the coast of West Africa, apprenticeships to Hoodoo root doctors in New Orleans, the life experiences of this Warrnambool warbler are the foundation for his style of Hokum Blues.  While Hokum is an oft used a synonym for fabrication – his voice and style are real, and by extension, CW Stoneking the Bluesman is real.

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As we are settled in a carved wooden booth amongst the carnival atmosphere induced by the Spiegeltent, all mirror panels and stained glass, CW and his band take to the stage.  On cue, as if Adelaide Fringe Gods decide that the atmosphere of New Orleans needs to also be invoked, a heavy downpour provides the necessary humidity and heat, with that damp sweat that can detune a banjo but glisten on the steel resonator guitar.

Through the dole queue despair of Handyman Blues, the soft crooning of Jungle Lullaby, and the Caribbean sentiments of Brave Son of America, he plots his origins and recalls his journeys, a regular boys own adventure.  With the schizophrenically clever dialogue of Goin’ The Country and Dodo Blues we are in the Deep South circa 1920, primed ready to be flim-flammed by this musical shuckster.  We are treated to the classic jazz-standard Don’t Go Dancin’ Down The Dark Town Strutters Ball and the dark edge of vaudevillian humour, manifested in the calyspso-swinging murder balladeering of The Love Me Or Die, an engaging tale of hoodoo love potions and ill-intent.

Mr Stoneking – you rightly take a leaf from Casanovas book. You too have lived.

And for a moment we can live vicariously through your life tales – whether they be tall or true.

Jonathan Mar 16th 2009 09:34 pm Cabaret,Culture,Events,Music,People No Comments yet Trackback URI

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