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A Double Dose of Pokey LaFarge in New York City This Week

July 11th, 2017

Pokey LaFarge, born Andrew Heissler, is what you might call an old soul. You could imagine him, plucking away with that whipcrack band, at the Cotton Club or some other bygone temple of ancient, potent music, stirring up impure thoughts and a hankering for more gin or whiskey. He’s on tour again, this time behind Manic Revelations (stream it below), which fleshes out his sepia-toned blues, rockabilly and Western swing with Memphis soul and gospel elements, complete with horns—and a framing of current political themes. The first place to start is “Riot in the Streets,” which the New York Times was right in calling “like an explanation of now, delivered in an ancient language.” A St. Louis native, LaFarge (above, performing “Bad Dreams” for KCMP FM) addresses the death of Michael Brown, police victimization and media bias. “What I wanted to convey was the desperation people feel when they have been pushed to brink,” he told the Huffington Post in May. “No more talking. No more waiting. No more silence. Sometimes you have to fight.” You get him twice this week: Wednesday at The Bowery Ballroom and Thursday at Rough Trade NYC. And you can expect a healthy focus on the 10 outstanding Manic tracks with a judicious sampling of material going back to his 2006 debut. His band is the South City Three, including bass, harmonica, electric guitar, drums, clarinet, sax and trumpet, with a few other variables as they see fit. Go from there and relish the retro flavor. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson