Reviews and Quotes:

“Pokey’s got a St. Louis thing going. His muse is the Mississippi; maybe that’s what makes his songs run so deep and muddy, though it was on the Ohio that I first met him. With a Bardstown tune he stopped me dead in my tracks—just a kid back then, cutting his teeth on primitive blues, rust jazz, drunk swing – Lord! – what saintly patron brought Clifford Hayes back from the dead and sent him back to Carpet Alley to reclaim his crown? Well, all I can say for certain is nobody sings much like Jimmie Rodgers anymore and nobody crows, rakes, rips, yips, shouts, buzzes or croons quite like Pokey LaFarge either.”

-Ketch Secor (Old Crow Medicine Show)

“A modern day Emmett Miller, LaFarge ardently explores the origins of American music in jazz, blues, country and western swing, promoting the fact that such music, and the old-fashioned values of middle America that yielded it, never died.”

-Martin Jones, RHYTHMS Magazine (February 2014)

“Really, in my mind, Pokey can do no wrong. He could turn his music into a Dizzy Gillespie bebop big band and I’d still love it. He’s got his finger on the magic button and no amount of fumbling music writing on my part can obscure the fact that he just makes great music!”

-Devon Leger, No Depression (December 22, 2013) 

“He is writing roots and folk music for today, not yesteryear…his passion for his music is contagious.”

-Julia Hatmaker, The Patriot News, (September 22, 2013)

“Ragtime and country, jazz and swing; all swirl together on this collection of expertly formed roots nuggets.”

-Kitty Empire, The Guardian/The Observer, (August 3,2013)

“LaFarge explores western swing, ragtime, blues and folk with a ton of energy and style, taking traditional American music out of the museum and making it vital and fresh once again.” – The Ann Arbor News

-Martin Bandyke, The Ann Arbor News (July 28, 2013)

“The instrumentation is great – jaunty brass and clarinet, steel guitar, washboard – and he delivers quirky romance…and choice turns of phrase with a pleasing twang and warble…this ramblin’ man’s far-reaching appeal suggests he won’t be lonesome for long.”

-Metro (July 26, 2013)

“What resonates about LaFarge’s songs are their immediacy and timelessness.”

-Davis Inman, American Songwriter (July/August 2013 issue)

“Midwesterner Pokey LaFarge infuses would-be moribund styles with rare vigour…though lyrical concerns are anything but nostalgia…highlights like “Bowlegged Woman” and the magnetic opener “Central Time” crackle with the dynamism of long-dormant forces reawakened.”

-Luke Torn, Uncut Magazine (July 2013 issue)

“Pokey LaFarge has…crafted an aural anachronism of country, Western swing, ragtime, jazz, bluegrass and Americana in a way that shies away from these technology-obsessed times and brings the nostalgia to Technicolor-life, all the while pushing the boundaries of tradition.”

-Isamu Jordan, The Spokesman-Review (May 17, 2013)

“…his tunes don’t come off as imitations. Rather they just seem to spill out of a completely natural American sensibility…and because he comes by it so honestly, the music itself feels just as fresh in 2013 as it was in 1932.”

-Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio (Jan. 3, 2013)

“In between swinging dance tunes, LaFarge recalls tales of heartbreak, betrayal and old-time scoundrels. All this on the back of the singer’s incredible voice, and some excellent instrument playing…the music is inventive and clever.”

-Joanne Armstrong, The Edition (Nov. 9, 2012)

“LaFarge’s distinctive voice and original songs breathe new life into the pre-World War II genres of string ragtime, western swing, and country blues…and he has been able to build an ever-growing audience that hungers for that very sustainability, quality and honesty that drew him to this music in the first place.”

-Dave Madeloni, Brattleboro Reformer (Jul. 12, 2012)

“The band is hot, and for good reason. The brand of upbeat Americana that emanates from each member just can’t be ignored.”

-Cincinnati Enquirer (June 28, 2012)

“LaFarge calls forth the ghosts of American roots music—Blind Boy Fuller, Jimmie Rodgers, and Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys—and manages to channel their iconic styles while avoiding slavish imitation. Throughout, LaFarge lays down a rock-steady rhythm on his parlor guitar with a business-like right-hand technique—a deceptively simple approach that relies heavily on the thumb, index, and middle fingers—which gives archtop guitarist Adam Hoskins plenty of room for his Gypsy-jazz-influenced lead lines.”

-Mark Smith, Acoustic Guitar (Dec., 2011)

“Fedora-clad troubadour Pokey LaFarge reaches deep into the American roots tradition to build tunes fit for toe tapping, swing dancing and kazoo riffing. With a list of heroes that includes Bill Monroe and Jimmie Rodgers, his taste skews retro, but he’s a thoroughly modern heartbreaker with a penchant for hitchhiking.”

-Jessica Steinhoff, Isthmus (Dec. 8, 2011)

“LaFarge aches for the age of paddle steamers. His jumpy American roots music is sheer joy. And not a novelty.”

-Brent DiCrescenzo, Time Out Chicago (Dec. 07, 2011)

“The kind of music you can clap, bring your kids, drink whiskey, smile, stomp your feet, close your eyes and feel lost in time. It’s pretty cool that this generation is willing and capable of still bringing it to us old school.”

-Brooke Atwood, My Style Bass (Nov. 18, 2011)

“…looks like a lot of fun with old-timey music filtered through his young soul.”

-Jim White, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Oct. 27, 2011)

“…ferocious, a concentrate of some of his musical heroes, from Bill Monroe’s keen musicianship to Woody Guthrie’s way with storytelling.”

- James Reed, The Boston Globe (Oct. 23, 2011)

“…really needs to guest on Boardwalk Empire … connect with the glamor of the nightclub and with the sophistication of figures like Louis Jordan or Fats Domino. “

-Ann Powers, NPR Music (Oct. 17, 2011)

“The big noise from St. Louis returns with another energetic blast of innocent honky-tonk craziness that’ll make you wish you had access to whatever it is that Pokey uses. Surrounded by his sidekicks, the retro fanatic cranks out the kind of dusty ‘western swing meets country blues’ you’d expect to hear if you were riding the wind in your ’38 Chevy pickup down a Midwest back turnpike.”

- Julian Piper, Acoustic Magazine (Sept. 01, 2011)

“St. Louis guitarist/singer/songwriter Pokey LaFarge leans on ragtime, country blues, Western swing and the early jazz of Chicago and New Orleans to create a spirited and engaging Americana style that has a playfulness the period re-creationists often forget.”

- Phil Gallo, Billboard (Aug. 13, 2011)

“LaFarge not only remembers the good times- he is the good times…. LaFarge is the performer who’s ahead of the game right now, one potent enough to gain the attention of Jack White, who’s keen to record him. And this album, bless its Jelly Roll heart, should induce further attention as Pokey, singing, guitar-strumming and delivering hot kazoo, revives memories of old New Orleans, stirred in with country blues and a touch of Western swing…”

-Fred Dellar, Mojo (Aug. 01, 2011)

“It’s fitting, then, that this St. Louis quartet’s second album is so difficult to pigeonhole. LaFarge has mastered the art of writing songs in his chosen era’s sunny, charming style, but the musical setting he gives them demands that his bandmates conjure up everyone from the early black songsters to Bob Wills and Django Reinhardt. Fortunately, he’s got the boys that can pull that off, with Adam Hoskins’ guitar, Joey Glynn’s stand-up bass and Ryan Koenig’s dual skills on washboard and harmonica effortlessly serving up every flavour required… The result is a thoroughly enjoyable, toetapper of an album, and one that’s almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face. No wonder The White Stripes’ Jack White has declared himself a fan, and already done some production work on one of the band’s other records.”

- Paul Slade, Roots Magazine (Aug. 01, 2011)

“It’s a recording well worth your scratch, and one you will joyfully revisit many, many, times. Simply essential.”

Chris Mateer, No Depression (Jul. 18, 2011)

“Like a man born–very luckily for us–in the wrong era, Pokey (along with his trio of astoundingly accomplished pals) gives the 21st Century a sparkling history lesson. His gumbo of 1930s ragtime, jazz. blues, country, and swing is intoxicating, the self-penned tunes like So Long Honeybee and Drinkin’ Whiskey Tonight sounding so authentic you’d swear they were written back in his favourite era. Catching them live only enhances the pleasure.”

- Dave Esson, Sunday Express (Jul. 17, 2011)

“On Middle of Everywhere, out July 19, LaFarge and his band The South City Three tear through the sounds of the past with manically skittish energy: Even the longest and slowest songs here, like “Coffee Pot Blues” and the four-and-a-half-minute ballad “River Rock Bottom,” have a way of angrying up the blood. The rest sizzles and crackles along with speedier verve and style — as archaic as a megaphone crooner, but timeless like great bluegrass. It’s anachronistic to call Pokey LaFarge rock ‘n’ roll, but he belongs on that stage, too.”

- Stephen Thompson, NPR Music (Jul. 10, 2011)

“If you’re looking for a smooth blend of wise cracking lyrics, hop-skipping banjo, fine picked blues guitar, washboard percussion and a beating bass then you should probably look right in the ‘Middle Of Everywhere’.”

- Jonathan Aird, Americana UK (Jul. 07, 2011)

“Pokey is a throwback to the days of medicine shows and guitar-picking troubadours – a dapper bantamweight in a pork pie hat who has acquired the voice of a man three times his age and four times his size.”

- Rob Adams, The Herald, Scotland (June 26, 2011)

“Pokey LaFarge writes and performs original and sometimes traditional music, steeped in American blues, country and Western swing from the days when 78s ruled the record player. LaFarge’s music is honest and infused with respect for the era he loves — particularly the ’20s and ’30s. When you listen to this music as part of a diet of songs from the 21st century, it feels fresh, fun and altogether outstanding…. [Pokey LaFarge] studies the past and makes it his own… his voice is strong and warm and the show he and the South City Three put on at Newport was simply charming. The sentiment in ['Feels So Good'] pretty well sums up what I love about this band.”

Bob Boilen, NPR Music (Apr. 20, 2011)

“Remaining true to the music that influenced him is essential to LaFarge. He was inspired by his grandfather, an amateur historian who was drawn to anything and everything old, including music. But, he insists, ‘It’s only though original songwriting that we truly find our sound.’”

Daniel Durchholz, St. Louis Magazine (Feb., 2011)

“Awarded “Best Local Band Album of 2010” and “Best Local Band to Go International 2010” by Riverfront Times, Lafarge and company are St. Louis superstars on their way to breaking big.”

Aarik Danielsen, Columbia Daily Tribune (Nov. 18, 2010)

“Best Discovery: This 26-year-old St. Louis troubadour is all about reviving the roaring 1920s – and onstage Sunday he did a fine job. Wearing a high-waisted gray suit with perfectly slick-backed hair, LaFarge strummed an acoustic guitar and lead his three-piece band on old-school jazz and blues standards like the snappy and fun ‘Right Key, Wrong Key Hole,’ plus ragtime, swing, and Delta-meets-Appalachia tracks off their aptly-titled new release, Riverboat Soul. ‘This is a folk festival and we are playing American music, people,’ he announced from the stage. Amen.”

William Goodman, Spin (Aug. 3, 2010)

“Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three channeled a sepia-toned era with their irresistible take on Western swing and old-time jazz [at the Newport Folk Festival].”

- James Reed, The Boston Globe (Aug. 2, 2010)

“Pokey LaFarge, having freewheeled around Scotland for the previous fortnight berthed tonight in Edinburgh as part of the festival fringe. As often is the case in this frantic festival, venues have three or four shows a night so he was squeezed into an hour’s worth of prime time entertainment. A small, dapper chap the first thing to note was his voice. Huge and powerful, roaring at times, it is an instrument in itself. Add to this his frantic, skillful (although at times deceptively scrappy) guitar playing and a kazoo (with added horn power) and you have a veritable one-man band. LaFarge, from Kentucky, is steeped in old time American music, able to carry off songs by the likes of Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith & His Dixieliners (Chitlin’ Cookin’ Time In Cheatham County) with ease. On some songs you could close your eyes and imagine you were listening to a grizzled veteran swinging a pigfoot around. Channelling, gospel, blues and folk he is also a great showman, cajoling the audience to join in, whether getting them to hold their breath for the duration of a guitar solo or to hum, hit or hiss an imaginary musical instrument. Above all LaFarge has the ability to create great songs of his own. The highlights tonight were a rousing rendition of ‘Born In St. Louis’ which had some improvised lyrics based on his experiences in Edinburgh pubs. Even better was ‘Arkansas’ a tender ballad from his latest album which has the pathos of early Loudon Wainright and some of the vocal mannerisms of Michael Hurley. Ably assisted on some songs by Josh Bearman (of The Hot Seats – Virginia’s premier string band) on mandolin, this was a great show, similar in style and excellence to Justin Townes Earle’s solo shows over here some time back. Pokey expects to return early next year with his full band line up. Book your seats now.”

- Paul Kerr, Americana UK, (Aug. 29, 2009)

“Following hot on Dan Hick’s idiosyncratic heels is a twenty something acoustic warrior named Pokey LaFarge, who makes a bigger, more lasting impression playing kazoo and guitar than his pop-mainstream competition makes fronting entire electrified bands. A vocal polymorph, he shifts effortlessly from Gus Cannon–style jug-band humor (‘Mr. Nobody’) to Mississippi John Hurt–style pathos (‘Josephine’) through two indie albums of original material. This itinerant Kentucky-bred minstrel name-checks everybody from Bessie Smith and Guy Clark to Femi Kuti as influences on his MySpace page, where he proudly tags his own recordings “Riverboat Soul.”

- Carol Cooper, Village Voice (May 6, 2009)

“Pokey LaFarge’s songs sound immediately like classics: musical gems from some forgotten corner of the 20th century.”

-James Ford, Nailgun (Oct. 5, 2008)

“No matter how deep and colorful the ink, the plunk and stomp of Pokey’s music always rises to the top.”

-Cindy Lamb, LEO Weekly (July 15, 2008)

“His guitar sounds like a ukulele, his voice like a transgendered punk Bessie Smith, and his style suggests a hobo Pee-wee Herman… What shines through most on Riverboat Soul [is] the same spirit that animates anyone who plays music to begin with: because it’s so much fun you can’t stop. And that spirit and sound seems to be translating to audiences across continents, ages and cultural divides.”

-Roy Kasten, Riverfront Times (Dec. 6, 2007)

One thought on “Reviews and Quotes

  1. Been a Pokey fan since 2010. Band is growing nicely. If roots music EVER gets the young audience, it may be with Pokey’s old hip/new swagger mix. Is it time? Maybe..

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