"Beer, Bricks, Violence...and Johnny Depp"

By Hilary Scott

COLUMBIA, Mo 9/22/14 (Preview) -- Pokey LaFarge's star has skyrocketed over the past few years, and shooting stars make for great stories.

Take the one about how Jack White heard LaFarge and his beloved south St. Louis band, The South City Three, on Nashville radio then offered to produce their next record. 

Or that time the band was on the set of The Lone Ranger  and Johnny Depp came backstage dressed as Tonto to meet them and play a little guitar.
Then there's the story about how Pokey met Asleep at the Wheel in the streets of our own Columbia, Missouri, sat in with the band that night at The Blue Note, then ended up on their latest record with a slew of other musical stars. 
Chance encounters in various settings have certainly affected Pokey's career, but I'm particularly interested in how a person's surroundings affect their art.  I asked LaFarge about how growing up and starting his career in south St. Louis shaped his music.   For him, the hometown effect was "sometimes positive, sometimes negative." 

"Your surroundings affect you greatly, whether you realize it or not," he told me.   "The bricks, the beer, the people.  The economy.  Violence."  

Pokey met the other members of The South City Three (then touring as The Vultures) busking on the streets of Asheville, North Carolina.   He joined Joey Glynn, Adam Hoskins and Ryan Koenig to create a "Midwestern swing" ragtime informed by a longtime appreciation for Americana and the Blues.

Their uniquely American sound was embraced early overseas, particularly in England, Scotland and Ireland.   But now, Pokey says, The Netherlands has become his "home away from home".

Pokey and his band are recording in Chicago and I'll be interested to see how the bricks and beer of the Windy City help shape their next album, due for a Spring 2015 release.

Closer to home, Pokey LaFarge presents his Central Time Tour at The Blue Note, September 24.
-- Singer/songwriter Hilary Scott Gennaro (better known as Hilary Scott) is already drawing raves for Freight Train Love, her next record due out in November.   "Scott has a sharp pen, a smoking voice and more soul than a white girl sounding like a white girl should have," writes Midwest Record editor/publisher Chris Spector.