Fraser A. Gorman was subject to the vagaries of a Sydney audience who seemed more concerned with chatting about their day than soaking up his solo opening set. Resplendent in a polka dot shirt with curly hair, harmonica and acoustic guitar, most would have commented on the visual similarities to Bob Dylan and there were subtle shades of the master in his songs but Gorman struck more of a dry-witted vein with songs in the realm of The Lemonheads and Velvet Underground with a strong dusting of country and folk tradition. He won the crowd over, distracted them from their idle chatter and no doubt reined in a few buyers for his tea towels at the merch desk.
C.W. Stoneking has created a magical and mysterious persona with the white outfit and bow tie, fantastical stories between songs, the gargling-marbles voice and glorious melting pot of musical styles. It may be constructed, it may just be the trappings of an eccentric artist but regardless of that he showed that live he’s a fascinating and musically flexible performer. Showcasing his new album Gon’ Boogaloo with its smoky electric gospel feel he also dipped into his back catalogue for songs like Handyman Blues, Jungle Blues and the audience assisted Jailhouse Blues. From the new record, Zombie was a particular highlight and an example of how Stoneking shapes the blues, jazz, swing, rock n roll, rockabilly and gospel into his own thing. Accompanied by bass, drums and Maddy and Memphis Kelly (daughters of Paul) on vocals his songs swung, tumbled and sounded like they were falling apart in a percussive clatter before reconciling around Stoneking’s voodoo jungle tales and impressive guitar playing. Live his music became an even more organic and authentically retro proposition like Tom Waits, Dr. John or the travelling medicine man selling questionable remedies that you still want to believe are the real deal.