Recently, I had the supreme fortune of seeing one of my favorite musical artists perform in a very intimate venue. I had previously seen Pokey LaFarge at a much fancier venue in NYC a couple years ago. This time there was room to dance and bop around to his unique stylings.
If you’re one of the uninitiated please go do yourself a favor and take listen. Not only is his music reminiscent of a time gone by, he and his band dress the part. Those of you who watch Boardwalk Empire might recognize his voice singing “Lovesick Blues.” This is how he describes his music: “it’s not retro music, it’s American music that never died.” His music is a mix of early jazz and country blues for today’s world. This is absolutely my favorite style of music. Not for nothing but I would really comfortable going to a club and doing the Charleston and Black Bottom all night. His music evokes a sense of social dancing that is nonexistent in today’s music. He’s also a consummate performer; not just singing his songs but living through them and just plain old performing them to the best of his ability.
Now, let me explain the evening. The concert took place at Sala Rocksound in Barcelona. It’s a pretty gritty and grimy dive bar filled with posters from concerts of yore in a former industrial neighborhood. After waiting about an hour Pokey finally took to the stage. The venue immediately felt transformed from dive bar to clandestine speakeasy from the 1920’s. There were several times that I looks around expecting to see flapper dresses. There weren’t any, much to my disappointment. There was, however, one girl who stood at the front that seemed to catch his eye. Lucky her.
Besides Pokey, the standout had to be the harmonica player, Ryan Koenig. He would break out into these amazing harmonica solos and his body would have the beautiful visceral reactions. It was beautiful to see and to listen to. Chloe Feoranzo on Clarinet and Saxophone were a vision. True early jazz and ragtime stylings. The trumpet player, TJ Muller, hit the style right on the head with the mute he was using. I could go on and on about these fantastic players who really elevated the music to such amazing heights.
Not only did he play my favorite song “Drinkin’ Whiskey Tonight” but I was able to get my picture taken with him after. He was one of the nicest people I’ve met. So gracious. When I asked him for a photo, he asked where I was from and what I was doing in Barcelona. Had I not been broke, I would have invited him to a drink and picked his brain on how he developed his music style and then we’d end up being best friends.
He recently released his latest album called “Pokey LaFarge” and it doesn’t disappoint. He is a midwestern boy through and through. This is most evident in his song “Central Time.” He’s no west coast or east coast boy, in fact screw the coasts, he’s all about the mighty Mississippi.