On the second day of spring, a Saturday night, Feedback wandered into the smoke-laced red glow of Miller’s and happened upon the sounds of Pokey LaFarge. As if he were a male version of one of Homer’s Sirens, his voice drew us to a table near the front, and we grabbed a beer and listened as he picked his way through bouncing ragtime rhythms and soulful ballads.
Now, on the verge of summer, Pokey is rolling through town again, this time with a stop at the Tea Bazaar on Wednesday, June 18. Before he embarked on a short break from his extensive touring schedule for a fishing trip, we caught up with Pokey to shoot the shit.
Though he hails from Louisville, Kentucky, Pokey’s musical journey owes a lot to our own Central Virginia music scene. “Charlottesville was kind of at the beginning of my musical development,” he says. “I used to play with this band called the Schwillbillies, and we went out there when I was 19 and recorded a record with Tom Peloso from the Hackensaw Boys, who now plays with Modest Mouse. I was living in the Dirty Bird, their old tour bus, in the back of Tom’s house for a couple of weeks.”
Pokey LaFarge brings his soulful solo ragtime blues to the Tea Bazaar on Wednesday, June 18.
His time in Charlottesville naturally lead to a short stint playing mandolin in the Hackensaw Boys. “I love Virginia, but specifically Charlottesville has always been good,” he says. Some of his best experiences in town have been playing on the Downtown Mall with local boys like Ferd Moyse, Critter Fuqua and Philip St. Ours. “We had this little pickup band we called Tater Pugs,” Pokey says.
These days, though, Pokey has been hitting the road mostly on his own, with just a guitar and his songs. He released his first solo album, Marmalade, in 2006 and names bluesmen from the 1920s and 1930s such as Reverend Gary Davis, Robert Wilkins and Blind Blake as his biggest influences. Pokey describes his own tunes as “ragtime blues.” “The guitar style is usually very similar ragtime piano and barrelhouse piano,” he says.
|Pokey LaFarge playing "The Cat’s Got The Measles And The Dog’s Got The Whooping Cough" live.|
What we’re listening to
“Bad Dream/Hartford’s Beat Suite,” by Magik Markers (from Boss)—A haunting and eerily beautiful ballad of nightmares, alienation, dark secrets and death.
“How We Roll,” by The Diagnostics (from Cost of Living)
“Devil’s Elbow,” by Tarkio (from Omnibus)—Before Colin Meloy set sail with The Decemberists, he charted his course with this alt-folk act from Montana. He still plays this one live sometimes, and rightly so.
“Addio del passato,” by Giuseppe Verdi (from La Traviata)
“Lovestoned,” by Justin Timberlake (from FutureSex/LoveSounds)
Pokey will pick up where he left off on Marmalade with his new album, Beat, Move and Shake, which comes out on July 18. “I’m really excited about it,” he says. “I’ve got an upright bass player playing on eight out of the 12 songs, so it’s kind of a fuller sound. It’s a bridge into a bigger sound, definitely, a bigger step in the evolution.” Come see Pokey, as well as talented local acts Mister Baby and Joe Pollock, on Wednesday. We’re sure you’ll be drawn in by his terrific tunes just as we were back in March.
Also, stay tuned to Feedback next week, when we talk with Pokey’s old buddy Tom Peloso, who will be playing with Modest Mouse at the Charlottesville Pavilion on June 29.
Bridging the gap
With the disappearance of music venues like Starr Hill, Satellite Ballroom and Atomic Burrito, it’s become a little more difficult to find loud and wild sounds around town. So we were happy to see that The Bridge/Progressive Arts Initiative is planning on bringing more live music to its Belmont space. The Bridge has already hosted some great shows (not to mention a slew of great art), and we’re excited to see them picking up the musical pace. Adam Smith, who makes his own noises in local bands like Truman Sparks, The Invisible Hand and Order of the Dying Orchid, will be booking the shows, and The Bridge will be conspiring with the multipurpose music-mongers at Nelson County’s Monkeyclaus to help improve the space’s sound. Turn to page 55 for a review of last Wednesday’s show at The Bridge.
We’re not talking about the sweltering heat. City Council, in its Monday meeting, considered an appeal of an April decision on placing a sign and LCD screen at the entrance to the Charlottesville Pavilion. The Board of Architectural Review approved the sign, but only if it is turned 90 degrees “to minimize the view from the Mall” and the LCD screen is covered outside of event hours. The Pavilion had originally intended to have the sign and LCD screening facing the Mall to display sponsor advertisements during events and information about upcoming shows the rest of the time.
Council upheld the BAR’s decision to only have the LCD screen active and unveiled during Pavilion events, but granted the venue’s appeal to allow the sign and screen to face the Mall rather be turned 90 degrees.
During the meeting, Pavilion manager Kirby Hutto expressed the reasons for putting up such a display. "This is a type of thing that most musical venues are doing these days," he said, "because the sponsorship money really makes the financial plan work." Hutto also referred to existing examples of LCD screens on the Downtown Mall. "I think we need to note that these types of displays are not unique on the Mall," he said. "You do have one in the Paramount Theater, you have one in the C-VILLE office. They are behind the window, but it is part of the experience of walking down the Mall at night." Thanks for the shout-out, Kirby!
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