The Glasgow gig last night was excellent. I’d been playing Pokey’s CD for a while now and had been looking forward to this, but I had no idea just how entertaining he is. Must be a real blast when he plays with his full band
– Paul Clarkson, Sunny Govan FM, Glasgow, Scotland
This guy is unique – a guitar whizz, a blues & ragtime connoisseur, a mock trumpeter, AND a writer of unforgettable melodies
– Sandy Semeonoff, Celtic Music Radio, Glasgow, Scotland
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.
When you hear the ragged glories he knocks out on his acoustic six-string you know there’s more than just showbiz glitz to this critter. Like all genii, there’s a little bit of madness in there too, and when the Missouri Riverfront Times said he sung like ‘a transgendered punk Bessie Smith’ it only told half the story. LaFarge is a sweet singer, sure, but he’s also a dextrous instrumentalist – harmonica, guitar, banjo and kazoo all take a beating – and throws out a timeless sound that could date from any period in the last 80 years. Go be delighted
-Mark Robertson, music editor, The List, Scotland
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, skilful (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