Fifteen Bands Keeping the Spirit of American Music Alive, As Chosen by Pokey LaFarge

Apr 1, 2011 at 11:07 am
click to enlarge Pokey LaFarge - Jo Mccaughey
Jo Mccaughey
Pokey LaFarge

(Editor's note: This weekend, Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three is celebrating the release of a seven-inch, "Pack It Up" b/w "Chittlin' Cookin' Time in Cheatham County." The record is being released by Third Man Records, the label founded by Jack White. In fact, the White Stripes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather frontman produced the seven-inch, and LaFarge and crew went to Nashville and recorded it in White's studio. In this week's paper, LaFarge shared some of the artists and musicians who have meant something both to him personally -- and to the music he's creating. Below, he elaborates on modern artists, both local and national, who excel in bringing old-time swing, soul and blues to the masses. Tonight's release show is at 9 p.m. at Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. It's $10 for 21 and up and $13 for those under 21. -- Annie Zaleski)

There's a lot of music being made today that reaches out and grabs people and makes them know that they're alive, but it's on the underground. If you'd like to see a list of today's performers who I feel are keeping the real spirit of American music alive, check out the following list.

1. Frank Fairfield. One of the best live performances is in a quiet venue; he'll take you to another place with old-time banjo, guitar, fiddle and singing. From Los Angeles, California.

2. Blind Boy Paxton. Pretty much a genius. He's just a kid, and he's so damn good at what he does: country blues and ragtime guitar. He's a stride pianist and singer. From Los Angeles, California.

3. St. Louis music. Rum Drum Ramblers: The ever-evolving group just made a great record.

Little Rachel: She's R&B, soul and jump blues. This little gal with the big voice has a great band behind her.

Swing DeVille: It's gypsy jazz, Western swing and more -- great for swing dancing. This hot band features virtuoso fiddler Justin Branum.

Colonel Ford: The Farrar brothers play in this honky-tonk group, which also sometimes features in-lap steel-guitar player Bob Breidenbach.

Miss Jubilee: A great dance band for jump blues, R&B and soul.

4. Hot Club of Cowtown. A great Western swing and jazz trio. Whit Smith, the guitar player, is a monster. From Austin, Texas.