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Pokey LaFarge at the Magic Stick, 3 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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With a name like Pokey LaFarge, you kind of know he’s likely to be, oh, a heavy metal musician.

And that’s certainly the case with Andrew Heissler, the 33-year-old singer, songwriter and bandleader from St. Louis who adopted the LaFarge name during his teens, when he began exploring various Americana folk and roots music styles. Since 2006 he’s released seven studio albums and some EPs, all genre-blending efforts on which LaFarge twists a variety of styles together to make something uniquely his own.

In addition to his own albums LaFarge also guested on Jack White’s 2012 solo album “Blunderbuss” and on a variety of film scores, including HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Lone Ranger.” He also took an acting turn playing Hank Snow in CMT’s new series “Sun Records.

• LaFarge and his band made “Manic Revelations” at Native Sound studios in St. Louis, the first time he’s recorded in the same lace he resides. “Doing the record like we had done every record before, in another town, wouldn’t really jibe with our whole mentality,” he explains. “So we finally decided to record at home, and it was cool. We could walk to all our favorite places we go to every day, a lot of Mexican restaurants, the coffee shop, the bar -- all in two blocks from the studio. We could sleep in our own beds. It felt like I woke up every morning, kiss the wife goodbye and went to work.”

• The August 2014 violence that followed the fatal shooting of resident Michael Brown by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson had an impact on “Manic Revelations” as well. “There’s some songs really connected to it,” LaFarge acknowledges. “Something like ‘Riot In The Streets,” you feel very connected to St. Louis, but then as there were more situations just like that in other cities (the song) became about more than just S. Louis. Y’know, when you’re writing a song you don’t really know where it comes from. I feel they’re all open to interpretation, as I like songs to be. Later on you can recall what you were writing about, but you don’t really know that when you’re writing a song.”

• LaFarge makes light of his role in the “Sun Records” series -- “I guess they just needed somebody who has a big forehead and big ears,” he quips -- but he’s happy with it as an entree to potentially more acting work.

“I haven’t had time to pursue it, but people have suggested it before and I figured something would work out some day,” he says. “It was pretty cool. It was a lot of work, but I met a lot of really sweet people and got to learn about how the TV business works, from the camera grips all the way up to the director. So it was definitely a worthwhile experience; Hopefully people enjoyed it, and obviously if I get some exposure from it, it would be great.”

If You Go:

• Pokey LaFarge and Lillie Mae

• Saturday, June 17. Doors open at 8 p.m.

• The Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

• Tickets are $20.

• Call 313-833-9700 or visit majesticdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

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