There are plenty of musicians who are trying to transcend music. Individuals who are taking creative liberties to develop something different. However, this attempts often involve the use of many of today’s new technologies – from synthesizers, computer programs, you name it. But few are doing it like Pokey LaFarge, the St. Louis-based singer-songwriter and entertainer who is taking the music often associated with past generations into new territory.

However, don’t tell LaFarge that roots music is “old” or “out of date”. As is written on his Facebook page, “It’s not retro music, it’s American music that never died.” Now LaFarge is attempting to take roots music to new places, or, as he told Scott Recker of LEO Weekly, “to the future”. He’s not using any gimmicky tricks or using the assistance of any software. Instead, he’s taking traditional instruments – guitar, banjo, standup bass, drums, piano – and making roots music sound new, refreshing, and even more timeless.

With Something in the Water, Pokey LaFarge and his band have released the first edition of this ambitious endeavor. The album is made for live audiences, encouraging audiences to dance or to be swooned by LaFarge’s Midwestern drawl. LaFarge and his band are currently on tour, including stopping at Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa on Friday (tickets) and Club Soda in Montreal on Saturday (tickets) (full tour dates below). I had the chance to catch up with Pokey LaFarge, asking him twelve questions ranging from tour life, the move from Jack White’s Third Man Records to to Rounder Records, and the music that represents him.


Twelve Questions with Pokey LaFarge

Thank you Mr. LaFarge for taking time to answer a few questions, especially while in the midst of a tour. Speaking of which, your previous album included a song called “Pack It Up”, which could mean a lot of things. Would you consider this to also be a depiction of life as a touring artist?

PL: It is indeed a song about life as a touring artist or traveler of any kind.

I’m curious about your touring experiences because you’re constantly on the move. First question, why continue to persistently tour?

PL: First of all because I like it. 2nd for the fans we have around the world and 3rd to make a living.

What’s the most exhilarating part of touring? And what’s the most difficult thing?

PL: The experiences; different cultures, food, booze, architecture, etc. The most difficult is the monotony of it all. Wake up, breakfast, drive, soundcheck, and play. Then do it all over again every single day. Monotony zaps your creativity.

Interesting (I’m anticipating Mr. LaFarge’s response). Last year, your tour stopped in parts of Canada, including two shows at the Ottawa Bluesfest. Why return to Canada and Ottawa, specifically? What draws you back to this expansive country?

PL: Great crowds. Great people. Beautiful landscape. Down to earth existence.

I’ve met a few artists who have had some unique experiences at the border. Do you have any border stories to share?

PL: Nothing too crazy. We’ve had some delays but I’m sure it’s nothing more crazy than any other musicians. I’ve known people to get turned away or have to pay some money to get in.

We should touch on your music. First, congratulations with signing with Rounder Records. For those who don’t know how it all works, could you please describe how the partnership came about. Who reached out to whom? What your own personal reaction was to the deal?

PL: I believe Rounder reached out. I considered and ultimately considered signing because of the responsibility I felt in taking American roots music into future generations. Both Rounder and I are trying to do that.

Pokey LaFarge 2

Has anything changed for you since signing with Rounder?

PL: Sure, Third Man and Rounder are very different. Both are great, just different. As a result, I’d say slightly different fan base and maybe different press opportunities.

On your new album, Something in the Water, it leans more towards swampy blues than the rip-roaring Americana of your previous efforts and is even a touch heavier at points and there are traces of Latin influences. Why move in a new direction? What influenced the new approach?

PL: You could say that. I’d say same direction, same approach, just a new chapter. The road is always winding, it never stops, there’s always a new town. Every town changes your mind a little bit. Everyday you evolve a little bit more. I’m not changing anything, I just AM.

Speaking of influences, when you were growing up, what music do you remember hearing in the home that influenced you to become a musician?

PL: I can’t say anything I heard growing up in my home influenced me to be a musician. I discovered music outside the home.

How about currently? Now what are you listening to?

PL: Been listening to a lot of things. Early Calypso, Tom Jones, Dr. Dog, Cults, Gene Pitney, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jimmie Rodgers, Phox, J.D. McPherson

That’s a really great and diverse list. Final question, if there was one song you’ve written that best represents who Pokey LaFarge is as an individual, what would it be and why?

PL: Currently “Goodbye, Barcelona” cause it represents my life spent traveling and showcases a memorable experience there in. It shows that you can’t peg my style; it’s always evolving.



Pokey LaFarge & Band


Important Links


Get Something in the Water at Pokey LaFarge’s online store, iTunes, and Amazon.

Tour Dates

Jul 01 FitzGerald’s American Music Festival Chicago, IL Tickets
Jul 02 The Ark Ann Arbor, MI Tickets
Jul 03 Ritual Ottawa, Canada Tickets
Jul 04 Festival International de Jazz De Montreal Montreal, Canada Tickets
Jul 05 Shalin Liu Performance Center Rockport, MA Sold Out
Jul 15 Doug Fir Lounge w/ Cahalen Morrison… Portland, OR Tickets
Jul 16 The Crocodile w/ Cahalen Morrison… Seattle, WA Tickets
Jul 17 Vancouver Folk Music Festival Vancouver, Canada Tickets
Jul 18 Vancouver Folk Music Festival Vancouver, Canada Tickets
Jul 21 Lagunitas Amphitheater w/ Frankie Boots Petaluma, CA Tickets
Jul 22 Great American Music Hall w/ Quiet Life San Francisco, CA Tickets
Jul 23 Don Quixote’s w/ Quiet Life Felton, CA Tickets
Jul 24 Troubadour w/ Quiet Life Los Angeles, CA Tickets
Jul 25 The Casbah w/ Quiet Life San Diego, CA Tickets
Jul 26 Private Event Vista, CA
Jul 29 Live! From Mt Crested Butte Crested Butte, CO Free
Jul 30 Bluebird w/ Brent Loveday & … Denver, CO Tickets
Jul 31 Knuckleheads w/ Betse & Clarke, … Kansas City, MO Tickets
Aug 08 Pokey (solo) @ Lincoln Center Out of Doors New York, NY
Aug 26 Maiden Alley Cinema Paducah, KY Tickets
Aug 27 South on Main Little Rock, AR Tickets
Aug 28 Fayetteville Roots Festival Fayetteville, AR Tickets
Aug 29 Fayetteville Roots Festival Fayetteville, AR Tickets
Sep 13 LouFest St Louis, MO Tickets
Sep 17 Americana Music Festival & Conference Nashville, TN Tickets
Sep 18 Grey Eagle Asheville, NC Tickets
Sep 19 Terminal West Atlanta, GA Tickets
Sep 20 Visulite Charlotte, NC Tickets
Sep 22 Cat’s cradle Carrboro, NC Tickets
Sep 23 Jefferson Center Roanoke, VA Tickets
Sep 25 Watermelon Park Festival Berryville, VA Tickets
Sep 26 Park Street Saloon w/ Hocking River St… Columbus, OH Tickets
Sep 27 MidPoint Music Festival Cincinnati, OH Tickets
Oct 08 The Hangar Dublin, Ireland
Oct 09 Art School Glasgow, United Kingdom Tickets
Oct 10 Newcastle Uni Basement Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom Tickets
Oct 11 Gorilla Manchester, United Kingdom Tickets
Oct 12 Union Chapel London, United Kingdom Tickets
Oct 14 De Centrale Ghent, Belgium Tickets
Oct 15 La Maroquinerie Paris, France Tickets
Oct 16 L’Usine PTR Geneva, Switzerland Tickets
Oct 17 Locomotiv Bologna, Italy Tickets
Oct 18 EL LOKAL Zurich, Switzerland Tickets
Oct 24 Ramblin’ Roots Festival Utrecht, Netherlands Tickets
Oct 26 Trix Antwerp, Belgium Tickets
Oct 27 Le Coop De Mai Clermont Ferrand, France
Oct 28 Barbey Rochschool Bordeaux, France
Oct 29 Music Hall Barcelona, Spain Tickets
Oct 30 Teatro Barcelo Madrid, Spain
Oct 31 BIME Festival Bilbao, Spain Tickets

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