C.W. Stoneking rocks the Triffid, 31st October
It’s All Hallows’ Eve in the Valley and I’m indulging in the Triffid’s mightiest of meats in tube form, the Triffid Dog. While I wipe an encumbering amount of sauce out of my moustache, goblins and ghouls of all ages pack into the beer garden. Arming themselves with schooners of beer, they wait eagerly to enter the air-conditioned hangar to see C.W. Stoneking. The rockin’ blues maestro has landed back on home soil after an extensive tour overseas, and it’s time for Brisbane to shake those hips like it’s 1950.
First to the stage is Peter Bibby. He walks on stage with his resonator guitar and a glass of water. Though most of the crowd doesn’t notice him, he begins his folk tunes with a raspy, hoarse voice like he’s smoked a few too many packs in his youth. With a scrubby beard and a ‘fuck you’ attitude, it’s clear from the start that Bibby is the punk of Australian folk. Though his guitar work isn’t flash, it adds to his persona. His lyrics stir laughter in the crowd as he sings about being sick, his friend neglecting him and drinking too much. I soon realise that the glass of water might be to quench his thirst after a few too many before the show. Whether intoxicated or not, Bibby delivers an odd opening set, but his lyricism and ability to capture the everyday life is similar to that of Courtney Barnett. Bibby finishes with his cult classic Cunt, with his fans in the front chanting the lyrics with him.
The crowd cheers as the main event arrives. C.W Stoneking enters the stage, dressed in his white shirt, white pressed pants and leathers. I’m immediately impressed by the sight of the mighty double bass and Stoneking’s back up singers, Vika and Linda Bull, two women who’ve cemented themselves in Australian soul. They begin with How Long, the opening track to Stoneking’s 2014 album, Gon’ Boogaloo. His fingers rest in between his whammy bar as he strums his guitar, creating the sounds of early rock and roll. He moves into the Zombie, suiting perfectly the costumes of crowd members. Vika and Linda shriek and scream in their call and response to Stoneking’s lyrics; it’s old-school at its best. The crowd twists and turns to each song and anecdotes are told in between, usually starting with “here’s a number for ya.” There’s the genuine feeling beaming from Stoneking that we are all his friends and he’s here to tell a couple of stories.
The set transitions to his second album, Jungle Blues, where’s the true hokum spirit comes to play. Though he’s missing his brass band, most of his songs transition well. Jailhouse Blues and Talkin’ Lion Blues are crowd pleasers, the audience helping with the lyrics. The band leaves and the set travels further back into the Stoneking discography to his first album, King Hokum. Armed with his resonator, the simple blues tracks that made him so popular play well in the live setting. She’s a Bread Baker is a clear favourite. As the twangy slap of the steal strings resonates against the Triffid walls, I can’t help but tap my foot and swing.
The band return to play some good old fashioned gospel tunes that get the older audience members off their stools and boogieing. It’s hot in the Triffid – Stoneking’s shirt now shows off his tattoos – but the band treats us to his final songs. We leave for some fresh air still humming the tunes from his entertaining set.