Pokey LaFarge laughs when he talks about how he's viewed by music fans.
"If you get somebody who knows a lot about traditional music, they'll tell you I'm too modern," says the 31-year-old roots musician, who was born Andrew Heissler in southern Illinois and now lives in St. Louis. "But if you talk to people who don't know much about traditional music, they'll say I'm retro."
But that dichotomy actually suits LaFarge. "I don't think there's anybody who really sounds and plays like me right now," he explains. "That's cool. I want to be unlike anybody else out there. I want to make an original brand of music."
LaFarge has certainly been doing that since 2006, when he released his first album. He and his band, the South City Three, blend folk, blues, country and other American roots styles for a genuinely unique sound. And he's had some ineviable endorsements: Old Crow Medicine Show's Keith Secor, co-produced LaFarge's self-titled 2013 album, and Jack White released the set on his Third Man Records label, used LaFarge and his band on his 2012 album "Blunderbuss" and had LaFarge open shows for him during much of 2012.
For the new "Something In the Water," LaFarge says he had some specific goals in mind, namely adding more muscular drums and three- and four-part harmonies to the mix. "I was looking for dynamics, textures," he explains. "We're chasing a feeling a lot of the time, so having more rhythm, more drive, and the harmonies to accentuate the melody and back me up -- that's what I was trying to do."
LaFarge plans to keep pushing forward in the future, too. Though he has tour plans well into 2016, he's already thinking about a next album that will build on what he added to the sound on "Something in the Water" and also pursue "more contrasts, and complements in the contrasts in the songs."
"I think even moreso you'll see something that will be all my own, without limiting myself to any classification," LaFarge says. "I wasn't born yesterday. it took a certain amount of work to get to this point, but I think for the most part I'm still pretty humble about where I came from and how I got to this point and how hard I have to work to where I want to get in the future.
"But that being said, I'm enjoying the ride."
Pokey LaFarge and Caroline Rose
Wednesday, May 13. Doors open at 8 p.m.
The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.
Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 day of show.
Call 248-546-3696 or visit www.thelovingtouchferndale.com.
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