Pokey LaFarge

Pokey LaFarge is a musician, songwriter, bandleader, entertainer, innovator and preservationist, whose well-rounded arsenal of talents has placed him at the forefront of American music. Over the last decade, Pokey has won the hearts of music lovers across the globe with his creative mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues and western swing, all while writing songs that ring true and fine in both spirit and sound. His music transcends the confines of genre, continually challenging the notion that tradition-bearers fail to push musical boundaries. Cleverly striding between numerous forms of traditional American music, Pokey has crafted a genre all his own, marked in its accessible ingenuity.


Rather than merely conjuring up half-forgotten imagery of days past, Pokey is a lyrical storyteller, the plot delivered smoothly through his dynamic vocals. One moment he shouts a line and the next he croons above his archtop guitar, backed by an often ornate, acoustic instrumentation that allows for nothing less than masterful instrumental skill. Both on stage and off, Pokey’s effortless wit and approachable demeanor never fails to charm audiences, giving way to a live music experience that manages to be grandiose and unassuming all at once. Born in the heartland of America and based in St. Louis, Missouri, Pokey’s Midwestern appeal and infallible charisma welcomes his audiences with open arms.

In the past year alone, he signed with Jack White’s Third Man Records, was honored with a second consecutive Best Americana Album win by the Independent Music Awards for Middle of Everywhere and recorded alongside Jack White on his album Blunderbuss. Pokey has quickly made his way into major film and television productions; he joined Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks for a track featured on an episode and subsequent soundtrack (Vol. 2) of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, appeared in Disney’s The Lone Ranger (both on screen and on the original score) and performed on The Late Show with David Letterman this July.

As an opening act for Jack White’s Blunderbuss tour, Pokey delighted sold out crowds at Red Rocks Amphitheater and Radio City Music Hall, among other prominent venues in America and Canada. In addition to opening for Mr. White, Pokey has played with the likes of The Raconteurs, Wanda Jackson, and most recently at the historic Ryman Auditorium with Old Crow Medicine Show. His 2013 tour trail (consisting of nearly 200 shows) has included appearances at clubs and festivals scattered across America and Canada, as well as performances at several of the largest and most renowned summer music festivals in Europe. Pokey is currently touring with a five-piece backing band, including his original bandmates (Ryan Koenig on harmonica, washboard and snare, Adam Hoskins on guitar and Joey Glynn on upright bass), in addition to Chloe Feoranzo on clarinet and TJ Muller on cornet.

At only 30 years old, Pokey’s career has not slowed in momentum since it began with his first release Marmalade (2007). Shortly followed by Beat, Move and Shake (2008) and Riverboat Soul (2010), Pokey quickly graduated from breakthrough artist to leading musical figure, receiving an Independent Music Award for Riverboat Soul and continued praise from NPR Music and Billboard Magazine, among other reputable critics. His latest full-length album, co-produced with Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, was released June 4 under Third Man Records. Pokey LaFarge is on a mission, encouraging audiences worldwide to think differently about what it means to celebrate musical traditions. Simply put, Pokey explains, “It’s not retro music. It’s American music that never died.”

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

Nearly a decade after folk-rock duo Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion put out their first album together, the husband-and-wife pair feel like they've finally hit their stride on Wassaic Way, a collection of 11 new songs to be released August 6th on Rte 8 Records.

Produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Patrick Sansone at the Loft in Chicago, Wassaic Way finds Guthrie and Irion pushing further beyond the folky sound they established on 2005's Exploration, their first studio LP. After Irion's solo album Ex Tempore in 2007, the live album Folksong in 2009 and the children's collection Go Waggaloo in 2009, the pair began expanding their sonic horizons on 2011's Bright Examples, an album that drew praise from American Songwriter magazine for its "lush, dreamy sound."

"This record is a departure from a folk duo," Irion says. "I think this is the best example we've been able to present that shows the many facets of what we can do. There's loud guitars, there's soundscapes, there's a lushness to it, there's a popness, an edge. But that can be difficult sometimes to bring it all together and present it."

Wassaic Way is also the latest entry in an ongoing creative relationship between the Guthrie family and Wilco. Sarah Lee is the daughter of Arlo Guthrie, and the granddaughter of the iconic folk singer Woody Guthrie, whose unfinished songs Wilco recorded with Billy Bragg on a pair of Mermaid Avenue albums in 1998 and 2000. Wilco also invited Sarah Lee and Johnny to perform at the band's Solid Sound Festival in 2011, and the duo had toured with the Autumn Defense, Sansone's project with Wilco bassist John Stirratt.

After recording most of Bright Examples live with a band, the duo credits Tweedy and Sansone in helping them put the new songs together in the studio. They had plenty of material to choose from: Before convening in Chicago last year, Guthrie and Irion sent along nearly 50 demos for Tweedy and Sansone to sort through. Once they got to the Loft, Tweedy pushed them to revise and tighten up the tunes they had decided on.

"We actually ended up rewriting a lot of these songs with Jeff in the studio," Guthrie says. "We would powwow on a song before we got going on it, sometimes for two hours at the beginning of the day, just me and Johnny and Jeff, making sure it was lyrically sound and there were no musical loopholes."

You can hear it throughout Wassaic Way, in the buoyant pop of album opener "Chairman Meow," the wistful melody threading through an enveloping beat on "Not Feeling It" and the moody atmospherics underpinning "Nine Out of Ten Times." Guthrie and Irion also haven't abandoned their folky roots, as demonstrated by the harmonica and Dobro on the lilting acoustic number "Hurricane Window." Tweedy and Sansone played on the album, along with multi-instrumentalist Charlie Rose and drummer Otto Hauser, which they recorded in bursts over a period of a few months.

"It was the first time we'd ever taken our time with a record and really gotten it right," Irion says. "When I listen to the album, there's not much I would change, and that's hard to say with other records we've made."

Although Guthrie and Irion perform as a duo, they rarely write that way. With all the time they spend together on tour, and at home raising their two daughters, writing songs is more of a solitary pursuit for each of them. As studio dates approach, they share what they've come up with and offer suggestions and ideas.

"Writing is kind of an escape from the work that we do together as a family and on the road," Irion says.

"It definitely echoes exactly who we are," Guthrie chimes in. "Johnny's full of melodies and really creative chord structures. He's constantly working on a song that's better than the last one. I tend to be a lot simpler, and sometimes songs tend to flow through me, rather than me crafting it as much. I'm a lot lazier than him."

Irion adds, "I end up writing a bunch of songs, and Sarah Lee will write two, and one of them will be the single."

Any of the songs on Wassaic Way could be a single, which speaks to the strength of the songwriting, and also to Guthrie and Irion's underlying goal: they wanted an album that moves them one step closer to getting at the heart of who they are as writers and performers.

"Every record has been a huge learning curve, and you get pushed beyond your limits, and then your limits are way bigger," Guthrie says. "I think we're still at the beginning of what we can do as recording artists. I think we're just starting to carve a path that we can walk on."

Song Preservation Society

"What the Shins are to the movie Garden State, Song Preservation Society could be to a potential Golden State."
-Music Connection

Song Preservation Society started as Trevor Bahnson, Ethan Glazer and Daniel Wright. Their debut EP, Ready Room, was recorded in the fall of 2012 with guidance from the much-respected Nino Moschella, master of coaxing masterful production out of a modest multitrack. Ready Room is Song Preservation Society's from-the-heart music brought to full and beautiful life with brass and woodwinds and strings and even fuzz guitar. It's seven songs with a strange kind of purity that points to something timeless. In 1966, it could have fit between the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel and Love; in 1976, it'd make people think of the last Big Star album; right now it shines through bands like Fleet Foxes and The Shins to be a ray of light all its own. When they started out, they might have picked that name just for fun. But on Ready Room, they've really made something worth preserving.

$13 in Advance $15 Day of Show

Tickets Available at the Door

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Pokey LaFarge with Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Song Preservation Society

Friday, October 11 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 8:30 PM at The Blue Note (MO)

Tickets Available at the Door