– Ketch Secor
Born in 1987 as Andrew Heissler in the American heartland that is the Midwest he’s a clean-cut stylish singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist who currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri. And who’s going to help you understand and appreciate American roots music in his own new way. It was after Jack White’s 2013 Blunderbuss tour when Pokey’s well deserved breakthrough poked through in the shape of his album «Pokey LaFarge» which was released on White’s label, Third Man Records. That same year notice was taken regarding his collaboration with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks on the jazz standard «Lovesick Blues» for the «Boardwalk Empire» series. Following that is his latest and best work to date, the 12-song album «Something In The Water» (2015). While it features his unique mixing of early Dixie, jazz, ragtime blues, riverboat swing, rustbelt folk, drunk square dance and whatnot, the songs never settles back into the comfort of sappy nostalgia. Why, Pokey infuses sharp, infectious new material into the mix. Which in turn paints the songs with the veneer of the new while remaining authentic to their roots.
Live on the road you’ll encounter him with his longtime buddies and band mainstays Joey Glynn on bass, Adam Hoskins on guitar and Ryan Koenig with his harmonica, washboard and percussion. The crooning, raking, ripping, shouting, buzzing and singing that reminds of Jimmie Rodgers is by Pokey himself. The songs are Midwestern short stories put to sound and the man himself had this to say about they came about: «The Midwest is at the heart of the new album. I was born and grew up in the Midwest. My family has been living here for generations. Americans like to reinvent themselves but you can’t really escape the place you’re from.»
Seems that musically, Pokey LaFarge did escape a step or two into the now. With his contemporary interpretations, he’s poking holes into the notion that roots music is all about the past.