Here’s the email I sent out to people on my house concert list. On Feb. 28 we’ll have Pokey LaFarge and Danny Schmidt play our living room in Oak Park, Il. Anyone interested in attending hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These two performers represent different sides of the same roots/folk coin. Leading off the night will be Pokey LaFarge originally from Lousville, Ky. but now residing in St. Louis, Mo. Though for the last couple of years the road has been his home. Pokey plays an amazing number of shows a year. He’ll headline a folk and bluegrass festival one day and the next night play a run down honky-tonk. He’s a well known finger picking guitarist, who since the age of 18, has been on the road with a number of different bands including a stint as mandolinest for the critically acclaimed newgrass band The Hackensaw Boys. It’s difficult to describe his music but the terms “ragtime blues” and “riverboat soul” come pretty close. I can’t describe his music much better than this:
“A versatile songwriter and blues fingerpicker, Pokey can have you dancing one minute to a boogie beat, stomping your foot to a bouncy rag, or singing aloud to a sad ballad. A driving thumb and fast fingers set a groove not far off from what an old barrelhouse pianist would do. But there is also a strong sense of mountain music such as old-time and country, as well as a lot of river music influence such as ragtime, and its offspring, jug band music as well.” Pickathon Festival organizer
“His guitar sounds like a ukulele, his voice like a transgendered punk Bessie Smith, and his style suggests a hobo Pee-wee Herman. ..” Riverfront Times St. Louis, Mo.
“No matter how deep and colorful the ink, the plunk and stomp of Pokey’s music always rises to the top.” – LEO Weekly, Louisville, KY
“Pokey LaFarge’s songs sound immediately like classics: musical gems from some forgotten corner of the 20th century.” – Nailgunmedia.com
Here’s a song from Pokey’s most recent album Beat, Move, and Shake:Cairo, Il. [Download]
For me Pokey has been a rather recent discovery, Danny Schmidt on the other hand is someone I’ve been following for several years. His string of self-released records had many people proclaiming him the greatest unsigned singer songwriter in the country. As of a few weeks ago we can no longer say Danny is unsigned. His new record will be put out by the well known folk label Red House Records (Greg Brown, John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky) in March. Danny’s song range from incredibly literate pieces of poetry to simple songs of love and friendship. I truly believe Danny Schmidt has written some of the finest song of the last decade. And I’m not alone:
“He is, perhaps the best new songwriter I’ve heard in the last 15 years.” – Rich Warren, Sing Out Magazine
“There are some albums that jump right out of the speakers at you and grab you by the throat. Intensely intelligent, this is sensitive songwriting at its ﬁnest.” – 5 stars out of 5, Maverick Magazine
“Danny is unanimously regarded as incredible, if not un-believable, if not just plain beautiful — an astounding guitar player and a true poet (if the wind can be called a poet).” – songwriter Paul Curreri
“He is hands down one of the best living musician/poets that I am aware of. ” – Bob Thiele
Here’s a song from Danny’s 2008 release Grey Sheep called “Company Of Friends”Company of Friends [Download]