When you first hear Pokey LaFarge, you may think you just stepped out of a time machine. His music is an ode to the roots of western swing with a twist of jazz, somewhat resembling what you may hear at a saloon if the owner was trying to expand his audience. He fits the part, often dressed in a polka-dot tie and suspenders but always with the signature slicked-back combover.
His name is hard to forget: after being born Andrew Heissler, he adopted the title “Pokey,” an old scorn coined by his mother. His family’s influence transcends beyond just his name; his grandfather was a member of the St. Louis Banjo Club and also gave LaFarge his first guitar and tenor banjo. LaFarge first discovered Blues music in a local pizza parlor, where he fell in love with the sounds of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon.
LaFarge has always marched to the beat of his own drum. After graduating high school, he hit the road and began hitchhiking to the West Coast. He would spend the subsequent years traveling and playing music for a living. After releasing two solo albums, LaFarge began recording with The South City Three. Together, they produced Riverboat Soul, which would continue on to win the Independent Music Award for Best Americana Album of 2010.
LaFarge has worked extensively with Jack White and Old Crow Medicine Show frontman Ketch Secor to develop his most recent sound. He’s been featured on my personal favorite concert series (which I won’t stop talking about or posting links to), NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, and has made an appearance on The David Letterman Show. He’s taking the music scene on a trip back in time, and Roots N Blues is here for it.
Pokey LaFarge is bringing his eclectic style to Roots N Blues this summer, and we couldn’t be more excited. LaFarge told Rolling Stone in an interview, “I never want my music to be categorized. Music shouldn’t be categorized, except as good or not.” LaFarge is good. We aren’t going to go further than that. But we will be attempting to swing dance at his concert, and you all should too!
If an artist have a Tiny Desk Concert, there’s a 99% chance I’ll link it in the post. Here is Pokey’s.