Tuesday, February 15, 2011

not black and/or white

 img: copyright king hokum records

i was lucky enough to be introduced to this man & his music on a feature film i recently worked on. one of his songs forms the sound design foundation in various torturous & ecstatic incarnations brought to life with great musical artistry.

there's an absolute kitschlike aspect to the resurrection of the old blues style which C.W stoneking champions: self-coined/rebranded "hokum blues". some would call it inauthentic or exploitative, that a white man would work so hard to sound black.

where does the line start & stop when political correctness meets a commercial sell-out meets artistic homage? is a spade still a spade... do you have to come from the west to sing country? or the US ghettos to rap? or have been born < 1940s to enjoy 50s rockabilly revivalism, tattoos & pin-up girls...

imitation is the best form of flattery. perhaps black is just the colour of C.W.'s soul. it's conceivable that it is a curious ancient thing which channels the voices of old rather than bandwagon hopping in search of an identifiable market buck. regardless of original intent: his sound, begged, borrowed or stolen simply works.

it has been said that C.W.'s "shtick is within half a centimetre of a black & white minstrel show". it's an interesting point & an obvious one to make. in respect to backlash to the heinous australian television show "hey, hey, it's saturday" red faces debacle, what would harry connick jnr do? 

it's not like his [connick jnr or stoneking] sound or anyone else's isn't derivative. as artists we draw inspiration from everywhere, often hidden places beyond two or three dimensions. we're all plagiarists. context & motivation are everything. for some. however, lovers of the TV show fat pizza aren't only people who operate on an ironic level. many avid followers are the satirized. 

i'd hazard C.W.'s motivation comes from the highest place: love. that he reveres this medium is without question. whether he's a switched-on charlatan or not, i share his obsession & am thankful he keeps it alive.

ultimately the man should be able to speak for himself. in odd breaks here, he does. does he ever remove the mask? his camera response to the question about his initials is coy yet guarded. the performer is performing. shock horror! perhaps after all he does not fuck his wife like a black man.

here's lanie lane with her tribute song to C.W.

once i have time i'll cut another version which was filmed at peat's ridge festival last year, where i saw her perform [& promptly fell in love with] & dedicate this song to C.W.

seems that we both dance like gyrating ghost brides to his swinging tried & tested hokum [TM] beat.

1 comment:

  1. it all seems silly to me. you enjoy his work or you don't, the rest seems besides the point. the need to define is belittling of everyone involved i reckon.