The St. Louis-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Pokey LaFarge, draws from a deep well of American musical traditions to create distinctively personal music that's timeless rather than retro, transcending the confines of genre in a manner that reflects the artist's openhearted attitude.
Incorporating elements of early jazz, ragtime, country blues, Western swing, and beyond, LaFarge has created a vibrant, deeply expressive body of work that embodies an expansive musical vision and vivid storytelling sensibility that are wholly his own.
He's also earned a reputation as a tireless, uniquely charismatic live performer, winning a loyal international fan base that regularly packs his rousing, celebratory live shows.
Since he began recording in 2006, Pokey has maintained an indefatigable work ethic that's yielded a wealth of compelling music. After making a grass-roots splash with his self-released debut album Marmalade and moonlighting as mandolinist with the Hackensaw Boys, he continued to gain notoriety with his widely acclaimed longplayers Beat, Move, and Shake, Riverboat Soul and Middle of Everywhere—the latter two were both named Best Americana Album by the Independent Music Awards—and the concert set Live In Holland.
Longstanding admirer Jack White added LaFarge to the roster of White's Third Man label for the 2011 EP Chittlin' Cookin' Time in Cheatham County (which White produced) and the 2013 album Pokey LaFarge, as well as enlisting Pokey as opening act on the North American tour in support of White's Blunderbuss album. Also in 2013, Pokey was featured on the soundtrack of HBO's Boardwalk Empire, performing the jazz standard "Lovesick Blues" with Vince Giordano's Nighthawks.
"Americans love to reinvent themselves, but you can never really get away from the place that you come from," he continues. "And in a globalized world, I think that there are some parts of our regional identity that we should hang onto and cherish. I do buy into that old idea of the Midwestern work ethic, and it's definitely something that's been passed down through my family and something that I feel connected to, and it influences the way I approach making music."
"You try to make something that's cool, something that's sexy," he observes. "But when you come down to it, you can really only make music for yourself... I'm 31 and I've been doing this for awhile, but I feel like I'm only starting to make the music that I've always wanted to make. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself when I was younger, because guys like Hank Williams and Bob Dylan and Otis Redding made so much great music when they were in their 20s. But now I feel like I no longer have that pressure, so I can just be myself.”
"When you come down to it, you can really only make music for yourself."