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March 30, 2023

Do the Hokey Pokey at Blues

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Pokey LaFarge’s music transcends genre. He blends early jazz, country blues and western swing, all brought to life through his dynamic vocal and virtuosic instrumental skill of his band.

On the eve of launching his latest album Something in the Water, Pokey spoke with
The Echo about the process.

’The last record I did had three or four songs with horns on, and since that record came out in 2013, I have added a 2-piece horn section to the band and I have been playing with it since. I wanted the horn to become more a part of my style.’

When it came to recording this time round Pokey made a few adjustments.

‘What I wanted to focus on was adding in drums and accentuating the back ground and the harmony singing, and increasing the amount of percussion.’

The recording process is a very creative one but Pokey refuses to acknowledge he knows where he’s going once he sets out.

pokey-xqs7U_E-1‘I wouldn’t say I was clear – there is definitely an amount of experimentation you have to do and you sometimes struggle because the picture isn’t very clear. You have to record as many times as you want to, but the audience is only going to hear that one song! I learnt that with recording – you have to make it right. You can’t be in a hurry; you have to be loose and relaxed, otherwise people will feel what comes out; you have to make it right. It’s about being more of a patient person…

‘You have to trust your instincts and your feelings; you go on your feelings. If they are mistakes and they are bad they might need to go, or they could make the tune.’

When it comes to music, Pokey believes audiences love a few flaws.

‘People appreciate the vulnerability of honest music – it’s not always perfect, and that’s probably a good thing. It’s not top 40.’

For Pokey, his journey as a musician and his style fell into place once he found the blues.

‘Once I got into the blues and the older forms of music, I started to realise that you can record and play anything in a multitude of ways; there are endless multitude of things and ways to go about it.’

As for songwriting: ‘I am a very undisciplined writer,’ says LaFarge, ‘although I do write quite often. I would consider myself fairly prolific, but I don’t think I do as well as I should… I don’t know if it’s because I have
a lot of other things to dedicate 100 per cent writing time.

I am writing all the time, notes, different fragments; sometimes I write a song in five minutes, it just happens. Most importantly, I don’t want to force anything; if you force anything it can get in the way. I think in the end you have to enjoy your life. That shows up in the songwriting.’

Pokey LaFarge is one of the incredible artists playing Bluesfest this year see bluesfest.com.au.


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