Any band with decent musical aptitude and a passion for the days of sheet music stores, phosphates and the Charleston can churn out covers of songs gleaned from thrift shop 78s and attract a sizable, loyal audience.
The real gift is taking that Hot Jazz/Country Blues/Ragtime/Western Swing inspiration and translating it into original and completely contemporary songs; Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three possess that gift.
Even when tributing their personal pantheon with actual cover versions, they quiver with modern vitality and exhibit LaFarge and the Three’s indelible right-now fingerprint.
Starting in 2007, LaFarge lent his bellow-to-mellow vocal stylings and love of turn-of-the-last-century Jazz/Blues/Ragtime to a pair of solo albums before assembling the South City Three with fellow St. Louisians Joey Glynn (upright bass), Adam Hoskins (archtop guitar) and Ryan Koenig (snare drum, harmonica, washboard). Their first album together, 2010’s Riverboat Soul, topped Americana charts here and abroad, but last year was the group’s biggest year ever, with a Jack White-produced single (“Chitlin Cookin’ Time in Cheatham County”/“Pack It Up”) and new full-length (Middle of Everywhere) resulting in more glowing praise, including their second consecutive Independent Music Award win for Best Americana Album.
The band opens several shows for White this summer, but its current headlining tour is the real news. Dig out your starched shirt-fronts, straw hats and string ties; Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three are coming to stir up whatever passed for a mosh pit in 1922.
POKEY LAFARGE AND THE SOUTH CITY THREE perform Friday, June 29 with guest Whiskey Bend Valley Boys at the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.