On Wednesday night we were at Concorde 2 in Brighton to see Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three on their Spring 2012 European Tour.

One amazing night out – their policy doesn’t seem to be ‘leave them wanting more’, more of  ‘give them everything they want – plus a bit more that they didn’t realize they wanted’! This music is a breath of fresh air for anyone tired of the regular UK pop and rock scene, or even if you’re not tired of it. Brilliant musicianship, a huge amount of energy, and a taste of the early American music tradition fresh from St Louis, Missouri.

It’s difficult to categorize the style of music – they describe themselves as “early jazz, string ragtime, country blues and western swing”. If you’d like to know more and see what they say about themselves (they should know) then have a look at the Pokey LaFarge website. There’s some good videos on YouTube, particularly on lofisessions site. Instruments include guitars, harmonica, double bass, washboard and kazoo! There was a bit of mouth trombone (no, that’s not a euphemism) and Pokey tried to get us, the reserved British audience, to join in with this – difficult task but there was a lot of joining in on Drinkin’ Whiskey Tonight, La la Blues, and Two-faced Tom.

Pokey himself is absolutely charming – full of charisma and style. His appearance is straight out of 1940’s movie, it is difficult to imagine what he would look like any in other style as his face totally fits this look. The South City Three are equally friendly, and all of them hung around after the show to chat with the audience, sign posters and sell some vinyl. We bought a 45 rpm single that was produced by Jack White of The White Stripes (and other combos). A side: Chittlin’ cookin’ time in Cheatham County. B side: Pack it Up. These are excellent tracks but if you can then catch them live that’s even better – we left feeling very la la la la!

If you like this kind of thing then a film you also may like is Oh Brother Where are Art Thou? starring George Clooney and directed by the Coen Brothers. Even if you’re not normally a Clooney fan – this film may convert you, a brilliant and funny portrayal of the South including some excellent singing by Clooney himself with harmonies supplied by his co-stars. [No, got that wrong – apparently, they overdubbed his singing]. The film is a modern-day spin on Homer’s Odyssey and well worth watching. The other Clooney film that changed my opinion of his populist image was The Men Who Stare at Goats – also one to watch (but nothing to do with singing the blues).

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