Neo-blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist (he also plays Dobro and tenor banjo) C.W. Stoneking (Chris to his close friends) was born in 1974 in Katherine, Australia, to American parents who split up shortly after he was born. Spending most of his time with his father, who taught in the back country settlements, Stoneking was raised in the Aboriginal community of Papunya until he was nine years old, after which he relocated with his father to Sydney.
He began playing guitar at 11 years old and began playing with local bands by the time he was 13, including a stint in the Woodford Cajun-Zydeco Hot Tamale Band led by Peter Lucas. While a student at Balmain High School in Sydney, Stoneking stumbled across some of his father's country blues tapes and was soon well under the spell of 1920s and 1930s blues artists like Blind Willie McTell, Memphis Minnie, Leroy Carr, Big Bill Broonzy, and others, a genre and era that were to form the backbone of his consequent creative vision. Moving to Melbourne in 1997, Stoneking began playing as a solo blues artist, privately releasing an album of covers entitled C.W. Stoneking a year later in 1998. He also formed a band, C.W. Stoneking & the Blue Tits, that same year, only to disband it a year and a half later after the death of mandolin player Charlie Bostock. (A bootleg album of the group, usually entitled C.W. Stoneking & the Blue Tits and drawn from a live radio performance at Melbourne's 3CR radio station, has been in loose circulation since 1999.)
Stoneking returned to playing solo, performing original compositions that echoed the 1920s and 1930s blues, ragtime, calypso, jazz, and hillbilly recordings he so treasured. He recorded an album of his own songs performed in his adopted style, King Hokum, in 2005, which garnered tremendous critical praise when it was released in Australia in 2006. The Swiss label Voodoo Rhythm picked up the album for European release a year later in 2007. An utterly fascinating and unique musician, Stoneking began touring with a new band, the Primitive Horn Orchestra, which included Kirsty Fraser on additional vocals, Ros Jones on tuba, Ed Farlie on trumpet, and Kynan Robinson on trombone. ~ Steve Leggett