Whimsical Pokey LaFarge returns to Midwest

Whimsical Pokey LaFarge returns to Midwest

By Jake Saunder

Pokey LaFarge developed his musical talents growing up in Illinois, and his self-titled six-piece band brought their old-time folk sound to Hangar 9 Friday night. The band emanates whimsical and melodic sounds, emoting fanciful and enthusiastic moods. Each note the instrumentation delivers harks back to generations long past.

“The core of the band has been the same for about five years now,” LaFarge said. “I have two horn players that have been with me for a little over a year now. They are pretty much with me all the time.”

The front man’s tenor voice sweeps around his guitar. Softly, the strings are strummed and flow poignantly within the outside instrumentation. Then the horn section, composed of T.J. Muller and Chloe Feoranzo, drives in. Muller’s trumpet ignites perfectly and timely through its muted cadences, successfully emitting the classic feel.


“There’s things you can find satisfaction in through all aspects of playing: the immediate pleasure of creating the music, and the traveling and meeting the people and growing as a person and a musician,” Muller said.

Feoranzo’s clarinet chimes through when her saxophone is not billowing away alongside Muller’s trumpeted, creating an explosive wind performance.

“Performing is one big, long adventure,” Feoranzo said. “We go so many places and you get to see so many cool things.”

The Hangar audience’s recognition finds a harmony with the front man and together they form a chanting refrain with the band. The sound is glowing, radiant-like howls composed under moonbeams that shake calmly in the warm night.

“We’ve played Carbondale a few times, at Hangar 9 I think twice. When it comes down to it, I’ll pretty much play anywhere,” LaFarge said. “I want to travel the world and see everything I can, and luckily I’ve got to see a good bit thus far.”

The strings pick up, jutting like the freeform waves that rise and fall, back and forth, in quick succession. The traditional sounds run through the evening air as the harmony of vocals flood and the strings pluck and the horns bleat, each in distinct and separate rhythms that join uniquely.

As much as the voice of LaFarge echoes the musical intentions of songwriters in the early century, the wind instrumentation and staccato strings certainly resound in equally strong measures.


The guitars clamor and the harmonica whips as the bass taps and the winds stir, generating a traditional feel of simplicity through the demanding polyphonic instrumentation arrangements.

The rising musical styling of LaFarge is quickly growing and despite the old-time feel, it is certainly a flame far from burning out.

“It’s a lot of work to put a show on the road, and we tour about 250 shows a year and travel all around the world,” Larfarge said. “I’m writing constantly and doing lots of different things on the side to keep it going to keep getting better as a musician and better as a person.”

Jake Saunders can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @saundersfj or by phone at 536-3311 ext. 254.