POKEY LAFARGE AND THE SOUTH CITY THREE
LaLa Blues, Claude Jones, Won't Make Love At All, Hard Times Come And Go, Two Faced Tom, You Don't Want Me, Sweet Potato Blues, Bag Of Bones, In The Graveyard Now, Migraines And Heart Pains, Old Black Dog, Daffodil Blues.
I know nothing about Pokey LaFarge except that he originated in Kentucky and now spends a lot of time in St Louis with a rousting string band that plays old time country style, vintage blues, jug band music and wild hokum numbers with consummate ease. I suppose he does what Jim Kweskin, John Sebastian and Dan Hicks would call good time music but it goes deeper than that with vague hints of blues, hillbilly, gipsy jazz and the styles of Gus Cannon, Jimmie Rodgers and at times Paul Burch.
Unlike some others I could name, Lafarge is no well educated mimic - he's got enough originality and sheer musical talent to slay that idea and is writing songs today that sound like they've been scootlin' around the Appalachians for the last ninety years. Check out tunes like Hard Times Come And Go, a speedy romp that catches fire with its nifty little jazz solo, and Two Faced Tom which sounds like it could have set the dance floor rocking in the thirties.
Almost every song on this CD travels at 80 miles an hour and the entire thing is alive and kicking with guitars, fiddles, string basses, washboards, harmonicas and something called a gitjo which gets its big outing on Migraines & Heartpains. The band pounds its way through delectable little items like the fast jazzy Charleston inspired You Don't Want Me, a snorting version of Sweet Potato Blues complete with hollered lyrics and plenty of whoopin' and frenetic harmonica and then there's a perfectly pitched homage to both Jimmie Rodgers and the Memphis Jug Band when they unleash their barely controlled version of In The Graveyard Now.
Every time I hear this CD, it gets better and better. I think Pokey LaFarge and The South City Three are one of the most exciting bunch of roots musicians I've heard in quite a while and can't wait to see where they go from here. Full marks and no doubt about it.
Review Date: May 2010