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For decades, practically every big circus on the road had a black band and minstrel company attached to its sideshow, performing on the streets and inside the sideshow tent before people of all races, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the southern reaches of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. During the 1910s, these companies constituted a significant pathway for the dissemination of ragtime, blues, and jazz." - Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff, Ragged But Right: Black Traveling Shows, "Coon Songs", And The Dark Pathway To Blues And Jazz

Author Topic: Chris Smither and Pokey Lafarge  (Read 599 times)

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Offline Norfolk Slim

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Chris Smither and Pokey Lafarge
« on: November 11, 2013, 07:54:06 AM »
I rarely get to any proper gigs, so two in a week has been great.

On Wednesday I went along (with "Harvey") to Chris Smither at St Bonaventures in Bristol.  I'm a very long-time fan of his and biased accordingly- it was his music that was my main route into fingerpicked blues and via a wending path to Weeniedom. 

As usual he put on a thoroughly enjoyable show featuring masterly smooth alt-bass guitar and world weary vocals, occasionally rising to a throaty roar.  I always enjoy his audience repartee- wry observations and quips.  He introduces the well known (largely down to Bonnie Rait and Diana Krall)  "Love you like a man" by explaining he wrote it when he was 23 and thought he knew something about women, but that these days he plays it mainly as a nostalgia piece.

He did two lengthy sets, largely featuring his own tunes old and new, but also touching on a bit of Bob Dylan (Visions of Johanna) and Willie Mctell (a rousing encore of Statesboro Blues).

Chris is going to be 70 next year and is still touring regularly.  Get out and see him when he comes by your town.



Then last night I managed to drag Mrs Slim along to Pokey LaFarge at the Fleece in Bristol.  Wow.  I have seen them playing acoustically once before, but this performance was really something.  Pokey and the band absolutely rocked a venue with 400 people (many of a generation you'd expect to be watching the X Factor and Miley Cyrus...). with sophisticated, no-compromise old time American music.

As a bonus hey brought along a clarinet player and a trumpet / trombone player for the show both of whom were great.  The key however, was the exceptional tight musicianship of the band, and Pokey's singing and showmanship, alongside great songs and absolute affection and reverence for the original sources of their material.  I guess you'd say that a lot of what they do has a big foot in western swing, but there is blues, jazz, and a touch of early rock and roll and country in there too.  The band clearly love what they do, and that comes through loud and clear to the audience.

We had a largely uptempo 95 minute set, and the crowd dancing throughout.  When even Mrs Slim is gushing with praise for guitar based music, something must be good!

To round off the night, Pokey happened to be staying at the same hotel as we did, and wondered in sporting a jaunty grey fedora as we were having a midnight nightcap.  He was an absolute gent, had a brief chat about Mrs Slim's double bass playing,and tolerated a photo :-)

Really highly recommended.  One of the best gigs I have ever been to.  Not many things, these days, would have me putting up with a crowded sweaty venue rather than a comfy seat, but this was an exception



(Clips are not from the events we went to!)
« Last Edit: November 11, 2013, 07:55:49 AM by Norfolk Slim »

Offline CF

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Re: Chris Smither and Pokey Lafarge
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2013, 08:26:29 AM »
Sounds like a great time NS! Pokey & CO. are a wonderful act & keep getting better.
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Chris Smither and Pokey Lafarge
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2013, 08:27:12 AM »
A clearly heartfelt and interesting review, Simon. Thanks.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline pete1951

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Re: Chris Smither and Pokey Lafarge
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2013, 10:47:18 AM »
Saw Pokey in London last Weds. Very good. Also on the bill was Luke Winslow King , Open D fun on a NRP resonator (very good Blind Willie Johnson style guitar) also a Ry Cooderish electric played by Roberto Luti, Sorry to the washboard player, didn`t catch her name)
Also supporting were the Tillers, A bit `old time` for me but great entertainers
PT

Offline LucyStag

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Re: Chris Smither and Pokey Lafarge
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2013, 09:08:17 PM »
Pokey puts on a hell of a show. Had a fine dance party when he last came my way.

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