Tag Archives: Pokey LaFarge


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



Pokey LaFarge Extends the Weekend on Sunday Night in Williamsburg

April 1st, 2016

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Andrew Heissler has appeared on other musician’s albums, like Jack White’s Blunderbuss, but he’s best known for fronting his own band as Pokey LaFarge and mashing together Americana, country, blues and Western swing into his own unique roots-y sound. And while that kind of music is often played quietly, it all comes to raucous life when LaFarge (above, doing “Actin’ a Fool” at the Grand Ole Opry) performs live with Adam Hoskins (guitar and vocals), Joey Glynn (upright bass), Ryan Koenig (harmonica, washboard and mandolin) and Matthew Meyer (drums). Their most recent album, Something in the Water (stream it below), came out last spring. “Pokey LaFarge is a force of nature. Not only has he set out to popularize his unique take on the traditional American music he so obviously loves, but he has done it with verve, energy and commitment,” per PopMatters. “This would be commendable even if his music, almost entirely self-written, was any less good than it is, but, notwithstanding his efforts, the music on Something in the Water is that good.” Additionally, they declare that the album “is joyous, musically seamless, progressive and celebratory all in one.” So come join the party—and extend your weekend—when Pokey LaFarge plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sunday night. The Cactus Blossoms—two Minneapolis brothers—open the show.


Pokey LaFarge Turns Back the Clock at The Bowery Ballroom

June 5th, 2013

Pokey LaFarge – The Bowery Ballroom – June 4, 2013

There’s old school and then there’s old school. When it comes to Pokey LaFarge, who played a raucous set last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the music is one-room-schoolhouse old. Leading a six-piece that looked every bit the part (let’s just say there was some awesome facial hair onstage and in the crowd), the St. Louis native played his blend of old-fashioned country, swing, jazz and the like. And although it seems like this sound is back in vogue these days, it most likely never left.

The band hopped right into it with their signature “St. Louis Blues,” clarinet and a muted trumpet backing up guitar, bass and percussion, sounding like someone had dug up an antique radio, turned it on and heard the music of its era. “Sadie Green” was Western swing with top-notch solos from all the players. Adam Hoskins was a standout on the gypsy swing guitar, not only playing his solos, but also channeling an entire era through them.

A large portion of the set consisted of songs from LaFarge’s upcoming new album on Third Man Records, including a highlight stretch of “Central Time,” the washboard-fueled “Day After Day” and “Close the Door,” the latter being a “political song” about healthcare. And while it’s a modern topic, the song had that perfect sepia tone to it, like it had been discovered, not recently written. That was the set in a nutshell: new songs that sounded old, old songs that were fresh and new. LaFarge kept a steady stream of his music coming with kindly introductions and an occasional arched eyebrow. The audience clapped and swung and sang along—old or new, this was the original blend of pop, jazz, country and dance, and a whole lot of fun. —A. Stein



Catch Pokey LaFarge Tonight at The Bowery Ballroom

June 4th, 2013

Thanks to an interest in American literature and early jazz, country, acoustic blues, folk and string ragtime, singer-songwriter Andrew Heissler has been making music as Pokey LaFarge since 2009. Some categorize what he does as roots music, but it’s really its own unique genre, and it comes to life onstage when LaFarge plays with the South City Three—Joey Glynn (bass), Adam Hoskins (guitar) and Ryan Koenig (harmonica and washboard). Last year, LaFarge appeared on Jack White’s solo album, Blunderbuss, and he and the South City Three opened several big shows for White, including Radio City Music Hall and Red Rocks. Things went so well that LaFarge (above, doing “La La Blues” on Later … with Jools Holland, and, below, in concert for St. Louis Public Radio) has a new self-titled album coming out on White’s Third Man Records later this month. But you just might get a preview of the new material tonight at The Bowery Ballroom.