For his first Santa Barbara area concert next Tuesday at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Australian blues artist C.W. Stoneking won’t be promoting any new music or filling the venue with the sound he laid down on his last album, 2016’s “Gon’ Boogaloo.” Rather than that record’s brand of muscular, electric blues, the guitarist and singer’s February 18 concert will be an acoustic affair more akin to the sound of his first two releases, 2008’s “Jungle Blues” and 2007’s “King Hookum.” However, the concert will not include the brass band backing of those records because Mr. Stoneking will be all by himself, with nothing but his voice and his guitar.
In an interview with the News-Press, Mr. Stoneking remarked that this style of solo performing provides him an opportunity to do more with his instrument than when he performs with his various bands. He’s been playing guitar since he was a kid and became a professional musician just because he liked doing it and decided to keep playing, but Mr. Stoneking said he stuck to music he had the technical ability to play during his formative years. Thus, he didn’t rate his guitar playing that highly.
“I never count myself as a very good instrumentalist, but I have a polyphonic sound,” he remarked.
By “polyphonic,” he refers to playing bass and melodic figures simultaneously rather than just straight chords. In solo acoustic gigs like the upcoming SOhO concert, this is necessary in order to translate phrases his backing band would play into his guitar playing. While he may not think of himself as a master technician on the instrument, Mr. Stoneking said he’s adept at adapting his band’s parts to his guitar when he’s focused.
“If I sit down and put my mind to it I have a pretty good ability to play multiple things on the guitar,” he said.
The one other musical factor to be showcased in Mr. Stoneking’s upcoming SOhO concert is perhaps the most striking aspect of his music in general: His voice. The fact that Mr. Stoneking is Australian may be surprising to those who just hear his music, as his vocal delivery sounds like it came from the American deep south about a century ago. When asked how he developed his arguably authentic blues singing, Mr. Stoneking said nailing the voice was simply the result of listening to a lot of blues music every day and internalizing the vocal mannerisms until they became second nature.
Once his current round of acoustic solo gigs conclude, Mr. Stoneking will start playing with a band once again, but he’s still “flip-flopping” on what kind of band he wants to assemble. When speaking to the News-Press, Mr. Stoneking was leaning toward reuniting with the crew that played on his sophomore album “Jungle Blues” and making another record with them.
“That was probably the best band I’ve ever had,” he said.
Tickets for C.W. Stoneking’s February 18 concert at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club cost $15 and can be purchased online at www.sohosb.com. The concert begins at 8:30 p.m.