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CW Stoneking, 11.15 pm, Friday Feb 20th on World on 3

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:07 pm
by Charlie
The first encounter with the music of CW Stoneking challenges all preconceptions. Surely this is a previously unknown singer from the mid-to-late 1920s, accompanying himself on banjo and supported by remnants of a New Orleans street marching band, assembled perhaps in Alabama.

The scant biographical information suggests that CW is actually a young Australian, a rumour apparently confirmed when he was billed to appear at the Barbican on January 21st at an event hosted by Seasick Steve in celebration of the Harry Smith anthology, American Folk Music.

It turns out that CW Stoneking is not only alive but has a MySpace site and an email address. Such new-fangled anachronisms seem out-of-synch with his pre-industrial aura. They not only exist, they actually work, and so it was arranged with CW for him and his musicians to come to the BBC’s Maida Vale studio to record a session on the evening before the Barbican event, and for CW to play radio ping pong in between each pair of live performances.

Meeting CW was no less confusing than trying to imagine what he might be like. He was there in the room, but how did he get there? Australia is far enough away, but 1928 seemed even further. CW acted as if there was nothing remotely unusual about his look (man in a white suit, holding a National steel guitar or banjo), his band (sousaphone, cornet, trombone) or his songs (involving boats shipwrecked off the coast of Africa, and advice from a New Orleans voodoo doctor), and sat down to swap tracks just like any other person might do. He acknowledged that his style and repertoire might be unusual but neither of us ever came close to suggesting it might be downright peculiar.

Since releasing his first album, King Hokum, CW has recorded another, Jungle Blues, after becoming enamoured of the songs and instrumentation of 1920’s calypso singer, Wilmoth Houdini, of whom I was only slightly aware. Mark Lamarr, whose Friday Night Radio 2 programme is unfortunately broadcast at exactly the same time as my World on 3 slot on Radio 3, had also hoped to stage a session with CW Stoneking, and he came along to say hello. After hearing what was played, and recognising my innocence, Mark very kindly sent me CDs by both Wilmoth Houdini and the Reverend Kelsey, a gospel holy roller chosen by CW who made a big impression on me. Having just recently played ‘Poor But Proud’ by Houdini in a World Service programme about New York, I’ve since become addicted to him and understand why he is revered as probably the greatest calypsonian of them all. This new album by CW may draw many others to explore and celebrate his music.

From Blind Willie McTell to Washington Phillips, this was a very exhilarating show to take part in, and I hope the atmosphere is conveyed for your benefit and pleasure.

Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Oumou Sangare - Iyo Djeli - Seya - Mali - World Circuit - WLWCD 081

2 - Felix Lajko - Zázló - The Flag - Remény - Hungary - A Productions - CDA 004

3 - Bonga - Nguenda - Bairro - Angola - Lusafrica - 562212

4 - Radio Kijada - Agua E'Nieve - Agua E'Nieve EP - Switzerland/Peru - Wrasse - WRASS promo
- In session

5 - C W Stoneking & his Band - Dodo Blues - in session - Australia

6 - C W Stoneking & his Band - Brave Son of America - in session - Australia

- Radio Ping Pong with CW Stoneking (selections marked *)

7 - Seasick Steve - Walking Man - I Started out with Nothing and I've Still Got Most of It Left - USA - Warner

*8 - Blind Willie McTell - A to Z Blues - Pig 'n' Whistle Red - USA - Biograph

9 - Little George Sueref - Living in the City - Little George Sueref & the Blue Devils - UK - Pusy Cat - PCD 001

*10 - Rev Charles White - How Long? - Guitar Evangelist - USA - JSP -

11 - Picaflor de Los Andes - Aguas del Rio Rimac - Huaynos Y Huaylas (Waynos & Wilas) - Peru - Globestyle - cdorbbD 064

*12 - Rev Kelsey & His Congegation - Little Boy (How Old Are You?) - Complete Recorded Works - USA - Document - DOCD 5478

13 - Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko - Tree to Tree - Africa to Appalachia - Mali/Canada - Factor - JS 200

*14 - The Mills Brothers - The Old Man of the Mountain - Early Classics, 1931- 34 - USA - Naxos Nostalgia -

15 - Zainidin Imanaliev - Kűidűm Chock (I Burn, I Smoulder like Charcoal) - Tengir-Too: Mountain Music of Kyrgystan - Kyrgystan - Smithsonian Folkways - SFW CD 40520

*16 - Washington Phillips - I Had a Good Father and Mother - The Key to the Kingdom - USA - Yazoo

17 - Cleoma Breaux & Joseph Falcon - C'est Si Triste Sans Lui - Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music - USA - Smithsonian Folkways

- In session

18 - C W Stoneking & his Band - Jungle Lullaby - in session - Australia

19 - C W Stoneking & his Band - The Love Me or Die - in session - Australia

20 - Sonantes - Carimbo (feat CéU) - Sonantes - Brazil - Six Degrees - 657036 1148-2

21 - Saltpeter - Picked Up Something Dirty - Hunger's The Best Sauce - UK - Fred - 2007

22 - Gangbe Brass Band - Un Ete a Vodelee [feat Piet Maris] - Asiko - Benin - Contre Jour - CJ021

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:37 pm
by Paul Sherratt
>>>From Blind Willie McTell to Washington Phillips, this was a very exhilarating show to take part in, and I hope the atmosphere is conveyed for your benefit and pleasure. <<

Sounds like it, Charlie,
I'm sure it will be.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:36 pm
by NormanD
As his name, and music, so rarely crops up, and in anticipation of this week's radio choice, here is a photo (possibly the only one) of Washington Phillips with his dolceola
or should that be dolceolae?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:09 pm
by Paul Sherratt
Dolceola ?!!

That's a specially configured Phonoharp 4/30 chord-zither ! I thought everyone lurking at the end of Platform 11 Crewe Station, knew that !
( :wink: )

For more ( actually much, much more ) go here :

PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:43 pm
by Chris P
Me-O-My Top Notch Hotchpotch from purveyor of Ping Pong Sing Song and Instrumentality. Another wonderful show, Charlie's and Cw's picks spot-on. Fell asleep last night during the only track that didn't ignite for me (Muller/Munoz), so just caught up on 'listen again', and very gladsome to have doneso. With such exceptional music it feels odd to single out just one track, but I wanted to say thanks for that truly wunnerful Aguas del Rio Rimac by Picaflor de Los Andes - joyous and a bit odd in a good way too.
Have been enjoying CW's Jungle Blues for a week and sharing it with friends who've also been going overboard for it.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:00 am
by Tom McPhillips
Somehow, this is a programme that I wasn't expecting to enjoy, and yet it was a great one...

Somewhere along the line I realized that CW's beginnings weren't so different to Ry Cooder's, and then it occurred to me that Leon Redbone, a consistent favorite of mine has done exactly the same thing throughout his whole career, even to the extent of (still) being fairly vague about his "real" identity. While I await CW's album to wing it's way from DownUndra his MySpace page is a delight!

I was in Antigua a few weeks ago and was struck that Calypso was still something of a force there, which was not true in St Lucia, which was all rap and SOCA... Thanks for the introduction to Wilmoth Houdini, seems like the template never changed and the form arrived er... fully er.. formed...

I just hope that when we get around to visiting Trinidad one day, we don't leave that island in Antigua's disarray - we must have driven past that damn cricket stadium a dozen times!

Great show! Thanks!

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:53 pm
by Alan
complete with parental warning... listen again until 27 Feb ... e_Gillett/

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:50 pm
by Gordon Neill
Yes, it was nice to hear mummy warning us about the dangers of listening to a song that's about 70 years old (Blind Willie McTell's 'A to Z Blues', I think).

But a great show. I expected to enjoy it, and I did. I've been playing CW's 'King Hokum' CD for a few weeks now, and it just gets better and better. CW came across as an increasingly quirky and interesting guy. He's my major discovery of the past year or so. I'm now awaiting my copy of his latest CD, 'Jungle Blues'.

I confess that I drifted off to sleep towards the end. It was the late hour and not the music or conversation! So I'll need to listen to the 'missing 25 minutes' on the BBC iplayer. But I drifted back to consciousness with the lovely Saltpeter track and, best of all, Gangbe Brass Band's 'Un Ete a Vodelee'. It sounded to me like some Bollywood-meets-Jazz instrumental. But I see from the notes that it comes from Benin. I'd have stuck pins all over the globe before I hit Benin.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:00 am
by Paul Sherratt
>>complete with parental warning...

Yes, what those scallies at Radio 3 won't do to boost listening figures.
They could try dispensing black coffee ...

Blind Willie.
If you ever get the chance, check out Blind Willie .. Harris. ' Where He Leads Me I Will Follow '

Saltpeter too

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:14 am
by trautigan
this was a good show -I do think Saltpeter deserve a positive mention; I think Charlie has found a true original there, but they do seem to be ignored by the rest of the world. And it's different to everything else he plays - but he sticks with them. It is World Music but not as we know it. Get them in for a session please.

the parental warning was very sweet and should maybe have better been applied to their song...

Re: Saltpeter too

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:59 pm
by Charlie
trautigan wrote: Get them in for a session please.

I have thought about this, and am uneasy only because they can range so far outside what generally gets played in this slot.

Credit Gerry Lyseight with being the one to introduce them to radio - he interviewed Salena on one of the Saturdays he sat in for me at Radio London


PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:05 pm
by Charlie
email from:

1. Heol Salem

Dear Mr. Gillett.

I was absolutely shocked to hear you state (albeit with a floundering lack of conviction demonstrating an absence of knowledge in the area) that there weren't many gospel shows "here". Whether you mean London or the UK, you are wholly wrong. Fortunately we are very well blessed with shows on a variety of national, local, community and even pirate radio stations in several cities all across the UK, including for example your own very popular, well known, national station BBC Radio 1Xtra. I am sorry that you allowed yourself to utter such codswallop though you obviously realized that you were ignorant on the subject.

Otherwise, thank you for the cornucopia of lovely music.


Tis Cohen.


2. Siôr C

Subject: Extraordinary erroneous comment live on air moments ago.

Don't have many gospel shows here, WHAAAAAAT?!!!!!!! Please take that back.

Many thanks.



Dear Charlie and all World on 3 hosts!!

I invariably catch the show online and from my desk at work – and invariably always listen to it stream over again and again. And its always a treat and an introduction to new ‘local music from out there’.

This weeks show by Charlie which had CW as his guest was just mesmerising in its own unique way – so was prompted to write in …. The weave of music from Bonga to CW playing with his band …. Ah!!! Thanks for this treat.

And yes Charlie, the Saltpeter number you played is deserving of much talk and commentary …. Naughty lyrics, a hint of carelessness …and a lovely sound. Have never heard of them before …. So now look forward to a replay and more of them

Good cheer,


Dwijen Rangnekar
School of Law & Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation
The University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL, UK

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:32 pm
by Jamie Renton
Up until hearing this programme I thought I liked the idea of CW Stoneking more than I liked the reality. Now I've seen the light, he's a true original & makes some very fine music.

Thanks for putting me right!


Re: Saltpeter too

PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:46 pm
by Ted
Charlie wrote:I have thought about this, and am uneasy only because they can range so far outside what generally gets played in this slot.

Is it just me or does anybody else have a problem with the keyboard sound? I find it like fingerboard and blacknails. I mean I can see exactly why they don't want to use the sort of jazzy instrumentation the material seems to want. They'd just sound like lots of other people. But that keyboard makes me want to run screaming.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:47 pm
by Charlie
The playlist is now on the home page too, complete with sleeve photos collated by Alan Finkel which always look so great in a column. If only it could still be heard....