Now and then, we hear about a musical artist who is deemed “ahead of their time” for producing innovative, new music – the likes of which few listeners have heard before. Yet, there’s also something to be said for an artist who can take a giant step forward by taking a giant step back. I’m not talking about rock and roll king Chuck Berry and his ability to simultaneously take giant step forward back while doing the splits on stage. I’m talking about the music of another colorful St. Louis native – Pokey LaFarge.
A young guitar-playing folk singer who calls the road his home, LaFarge reaches back to the 1920s and ’30s era music for inspiration. He dresses like a rambling man who has just rolled out the boxcar of a time machine train from 1935. The spirits of legendary rambling troubadours Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie are conjured in the sound of LaFarge’s powerful voice and lyrics and accompanied by his lively ragtime guitar picking. But, these songs aren’t mere rehashes of old folk music standards. LaFarge puts his own stamp on the genre. He writes his own lyrics on life and love from a contemporary perspective, making them more relevant to today’s audiences and helping preserve the largely forgotten traveling songster music tradition of pre-World War II America.
LaFarge’s most recent CD “Beat, Move and Shake,” offers an interesting mix of music, from catchy, ragtimey ditties like “Mr. Nobody,” “Walk Your Way Out of This Town and “My Woman’s Favorite Dog,” to slower, more introspective numbers, like “Arkansas” and “The Big Parade.” But, beware, dear listeners – after a couple plays, there are a few of these songs that are bound to stick in your head for the next few days. I ave a feeling, though, you folks won’t mind that too much.
If this kind of music sounds right up your alley, you can purchase your own copy of “Beat, Move and Shake” when LaFarge and his band, the South City Three, ramble into Noblesville this Friday, July 31 at 7 p.m. for a Blue Stone Folk Series show at Noble Coffee & Tea Company, 933 Logan Street. For a mere $10, you can see two hours of live, entertaining folk music in charming downtown Noblesville, while supporting the preservation of classic folk music styles. We at Blue Stone Folk School enjoy nothing more than having a good time in the presence of wonderful, old-time music, and we would love to have you join us in such an experience this Friday at Noble Coffee & Tea Company.
For more information on Pokey LaFarge, or to hear sound clips of his music, go to