Flyer profile: Pokey LaFarge

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three.

Photo: Paul Nordmann, courtesy

In a matter of weeks, the third annual Fayetteville Roots Festival will be underway at various locations around town, and in case you haven’t seen the lineup, the badassedness of musicians assembled for the festival is pretty much off the charts this year.

And as excited as we are to see legends like John Prine, David Grisman, and Darrell Scott at the festival, there are a few artists whose names appear just below these giants on the show poster that are just as intriguing to us.

Photo: Alex Wood

One of those artists is Pokey LaFarge. The St. Louis troubadour plays original music steeped in traditional American blues, country, Western swing, and he’s been turning heads in the folk world since his self-released debut album, Marmalade, was released in 2007.

He joined forces with fellow St. Louis musicians the South City Three in 2009, and since then he and the band have been touring all over the world relentlessly, earning new fans, critical praise, and blowing away audiences at every city along the way.

Recently, Pokey and the band backed Jack White on the track “I Guess I Should Go To Sleep” on his 2012 release, Blunderbuss.

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three will perform during the 2012 Fayetteville Roots Festival on Saturday, Aug. 25 at George’s with Cletus Got Shot, Adam Faucette and the Tall Grass, and Hoots and Hellmouth. They’re also set to perform during the special “Friends of the Festival” thank you concert on Sunday night, also at George’s

Tickets are on sale now at

We got in touch with Pokey recently, and he was nice enough to answer some questions.

Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Pokey LaFarge: Oh, a lot of different things. Most recently I was listening to Kocani Orkestar, Balkan Beat Box, Ska Cubano, Del Reeves, Jack White, C.W Stoneking, Dale Watson. I will always and forever listen to Bob Wills, Milton Brown, Roy Newman, Arkansas’ Big Bill Broonzy, Lefty Frizzell, Jimmie Rodgers and so much more.

FF: We’re excited about you guys coming for the Fayetteville Roots festival. Have you ever been to Fayetteville? What’s your impression of the place?
PL: Yes, I did. I remember hitch hiking through there back in ’03. I walked through town a little bit and said to myself, ‘I’ve got to play here some day’. A little late in coming back, as it seems I’ve been so many other places since but thankfully I’m making it back. I think Arkansas as a whole is a fine place.

FF: What is it about old time music that is compelling to you? Can you pinpoint it?
PL: Old American music is appealing to me for most of the same reasons that folk music is appealing to me from around the world. Culture, place, identity, source; these words come to mind. I want to know where you’re from and what you have to say. Our music is the best representation of our culture. That’s what I strive to be and what I choose to represent and promote around the world.

FF: Some musicians love playing live, and others like the experience of working in the studio. Do you prefer one over the other?
PL: Depends on the song but most of my material is best represented live.

FF: If you weren’t touring with the band, what do you think you’d be doing for a living?
PL: That’s a tough question for me to answer. Of course music is my favorite thing. I’d say perhaps flying around the world in a hot air balloon with my gal, teaching music to inner city children or living in the country on a farm with my woman, a guitar, a shotgun and a pack of dogs. As you can see I could go a lot of different paths.

FF: I’ve got to ask about what it’s like working with Jack White. Is he pretty down to earth?
PL: Yes, Jack is down to earth. I have a lot of respect for the fact that he’s so very hard working, very successful and still a down to earth guy.

FF: You guys have played a lot of festivals. Do you ever get to check out the other bands? If so, has anyone blown you away this summer?
PL: Yes, we’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of bands this summer and a few who blew us away were: Sweetback Sisters, Lake St. Dive, The Hackamores, Randy Newman, Steep Canyon Rangers, Besh o droM, Charles Bradley and the guys said they loved Blitz the Ambassador. Unfortunately, I missed them.

FF: On that note, have you had a chance to see the rest of the lineup of the Fayetteville Roots Festival? Is there anyone you’re looking forward to seeing?
PL: Really looking forward to hanging out with my buddies from St. Louis Ryan Spearman and The Lulu’s as well as being in the presence of such legends as John Prine, David Grisman and Darrell Scott.

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three – NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert