“Fourteen years old, smoking cigarettes and drinking Cokes at Jakes Pizza in Downtown Normal, Illinois. It was a boring town and I hated school. Except there at Jakes it was a little mecca of blues music in the cornfields. Juice, the owner and proprietor had his walls covered top to bottom with murals of all the blues greats: Skip James, Henry Townsend, Bessie Smith, Blind Blake, Tampa Red and more. Out of the stereo came these voices to match the faces of these artists; amazing man. Everyday I would go there, sometimes skipping school or not coming home for dinner just to hang out with Juice and his other old bitter drunk buddies who sloshed their sorrows away listening to the greats with Jack and Cokes in styrofoam cups. I think the music healed all of us in the only way that despair is sometimes comforting.
“Music became my world. I had begun listening to the old stuff. Then I had begun writing, when my grandfather, who brought me to my first bluegrass festivals, got me my first guitar at 15 and I started playing. Really though, I just wanted to write, being equally as enamoured with Civil war, WW II history, baseball and writers like Hemingway, Kerouac and Steinbeck. At that point I wanted to be a historian, baseball reporter, novelist and musician in one. Life was out there and I knew I could do all of these things if I just left home and travelled.
“Thank God I discovered Bill Monroe before I left at 17, got a mandolin and I was on my way. Soon after I played fiddle. No matter where I went the most important things were to keep listening and reading and playing. I wanted to create my own sound but wasn’t getting anywhere on the mandolin and fiddle so I picked up the guitar again and my singing and songwriting took off.”
Thanks to Pokey LaFarge for the latest in our series of artist blogs. Following the success of their last UK tour and appearance on Jools’ Hootenanny to kick-start 2012, Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three are back for more dates in Ireland and the UK starting this Friday, in support of their album Middle Of Everywhere. Tickets are selling out fast so grab them while you can – Dublin, Newcastle, Leeds and both London dates are sold out.
****Listen to Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three in session on our podcast and chatting to Trevor Dann, right HERE.****
No shows booked at the moment.