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Americana, early jazz, and country blues artist Pokey LaFarge plays The Siren on Dec. 11

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Pokey LaFarge is one of a kind—a purveyor and preservationist of antiquated sounds that should never be forgotten. His music straddles multiple genres and epochs—celebrating past and present.

RETRO-TASTIC Pokey LaFarge—purveyor of Western swing, Vaudeville, Appalachian folk, ragtime, country blues, and early jazz—plays The Siren on Dec. 11. - PHOTO COURTESY OF POKEY LAFARGE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Pokey Lafarge
  • RETRO-TASTIC Pokey LaFarge—purveyor of Western swing, Vaudeville, Appalachian folk, ragtime, country blues, and early jazz—plays The Siren on Dec. 11.

Born Andrew Heissler in Bloomington, Illinois, he showed an interest in all things historical from a young age. His grandfathers both deeply influenced him. One was a member of the St. Louis Banjo Club and gave him his first guitar and tenor banjo, the other an amateur historian proficient in the American Civil War and World War II. Pokey, so named by his mother for his meandering ways, discovered blues as an early teenager, and by 17, he'd graduated high school, moved West, and was supporting himself as street busker.

Let's fast-forward 20 years through a very unique music career. In March of 2020, he gave up his Los Angeles abode, put his belongings in storage, and was headed to Austin to showcase and launch the his then-new record, Rock Bottom Rhapsody (released April 10, 2020), at South by Southwest, after which he planed for an extended tour. Best laid plans and all. The pandemic crushed it them.

Stuck in Austin, he started work on his newest studio album, In the Blossom of Their Shade, which was released in two months ago in October. The songs reportedly "flowed out of him."

"Looking in, inspired by the deep soul not just from these shores, but from distant geographical places like Africa or South America, LaFarge set out to create a body of work that paired emotional lyrics with a killer groove and grabby melodies," according to press materials.

The album is, indeed, fantastic—a collection of entertaining and unique songs centered in various genres without ever sounding derivative. Numbskull and Good Medicine host Pokey LaFarge at The Siren on Saturday, Dec. 11 (8 p.m.; 21-and-older; $25 plus fees presale at eventbrite.com or $25 at the door).

TALENTED TRIO Shawn Colvin (pictured) will share the Fremont Theater stage with fellow singer-songwriters Marc Cohn and Sara Watkins on Dec. 9. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSEPH LLANES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Joseph Llanes
  • TALENTED TRIO Shawn Colvin (pictured) will share the Fremont Theater stage with fellow singer-songwriters Marc Cohn and Sara Watkins on Dec. 9.

Triple awesome

There are still good seats left to see three amazing singer-songwriters who've teamed up for a Fremont Theater show this Thursday, Dec. 9. Marc Cohn, Shawn Colvin, and Sara Watkins will appear together in concert starting at 7 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.; all ages; $50 to $70 plus fees at fremontslo.com). Both Cohn and Colvin are Grammy Award winners, and Watkins was Nickel Creek's fiddler before she set off on her solo career.

Also at the Fremont, see indie pop act TV Girl next Thursday, Dec. 16 (doors at 7 p.m.; $18 plus fees at fremontslo.com). They'll be playing their 2014 album French Exit in its entirety, with an opening acoustic set by Jordana.

Brew me a river

SLO Brew Rock's got a sweet slate of music for you this week starting with incredible AC/DC tribute act High Voltage playing "a very loud Xmas party" on Saturday, Dec. 11 (7 p.m.; all ages; free). These guys are total pros, and the band delivers an incredible simulation of the rocking Aussie act.

Now celebrating their 11th year, High Voltage has been through a lot of different players, but as drummer Ray Rocha notes, "It's crazy that I could find so many talented guys to keep the band going. I've never had to cancel or reschedule a concert for lack of having a player."

SKATE PUNKS RULE Authority Zero is a little bit punk and a little bit reggae, and they're ready to rev you up at SLO Brew Rock on Dec. 13. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AUTHORITY ZERO
  • Photo Courtesy Of Authority Zero
  • SKATE PUNKS RULE Authority Zero is a little bit punk and a little bit reggae, and they're ready to rev you up at SLO Brew Rock on Dec. 13.

Authority Zero makes a stop at SLO Brew Rock on their Ollie Ollie Oxen Free North American tour this Monday, Dec. 13 (8 p.m.; 18-and-older; $17 plus fees presale at slobrew.com or $20 day of show). Pop and skate punk, reggae and ska, new wave and post grunge await!

On Wednesday, Dec. 15, enjoy an evening with Americana folk act Mapache at SLO Brew Rock (7 p.m.; all ages; $20 plus fees presale at slobrew.com or $25 day of show). Brought to you by (((folkYEAH!))) and SLO Brew Live, the band will play an acoustic set and an electric set.

And mark your calendar for next Thursday, Dec. 16, when funk, ska, punk, metal act Fishbone plays SLO brew Rock (7 p.m.; 18-and-older; $22.50 plus fees at slobrew.com). Hard to believe these guys have been bringing high-octane alt-rock and sharp social criticism since 1979!

BROTHERLY JAZZ The Martin Brothers join the Cuesta Jazz Ensemble and Royal Garden Swing Orchestra for a whopper of a show on Dec. 11, at the Cuesta College Performing Arts Center. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MARTIN BROTHERS
  • Photo Courtesy Of The Martin Brothers
  • BROTHERLY JAZZ The Martin Brothers join the Cuesta Jazz Ensemble and Royal Garden Swing Orchestra for a whopper of a show on Dec. 11, at the Cuesta College Performing Arts Center.

All that jazz

Music industry giants The Martin Brothers will join the Cuesta Jazz Ensemble and the Royal Garden Swing Orchestra at Cuesta's Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Dec. 11 (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $10 to $15 at cuesta.universitytickets.com).

"My brothers and I are veterans of the music industry and have played with many, many artists," Scott Martin noted. "I currently play with the band WAR and won a Grammy Award with the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band. My brothers have impressive credentials as well, having played with Barry Manilow, Paul Anna, and many more. My younger brother, Andy, played in the movie Soul and was the trombone voice of the little girl in the movie. He has so many movie and recording credits I can't keep up."

See Scott, Andy (Big Phat Band, Horace Silver), and Stan Martin (Tom Kubis Big Band) as they work with two great local ensembles: Cuesta Jazz Ensemble directed by Ron McCarley, and local big band Royal Garden Swing Orchestra directed by Warren Balfour.

More music ...

Santa Maria band Mike Healy and The Canaries will play a free afternoon show at Morro Bay's The Siren on Saturday, Dec. 11 (2:30 to 5:30 p.m.; 21-and-older). They play an appealing and accessible brand of alt-Americana, and Healy's a terrific songwriter.

The annual Damon Castillo Holiday Show returns to the Court Street Terrance this Saturday, Dec. 11 (5:30 p.m.; all ages; free), with some very special guests! Vocalists Inga Swearingen, Eric Cotton, and Morgan Monroe will join Castillo's amazing band for an evening of holiday cheer. That's a whole lotta talent.

Singer-songwriter Sadie Jasper will celebrate the release of her first studio EP, Shut It Off, this Saturday, Dec. 11 (6 p.m.; $10 at eventbrite.com), at Red Bean Coffee in Grover Beach. Recorded in Morro Bay at Robbo Music, the five-song collection is lush and beautiful. As Robbo Music proprietor and engineer Rob Vermeulen noted, "I think she's amazing and a very talented songwriter, plus an excellent singer with a unique style." All proceeds from merchandise will go toward the making of Sadie's next album.

PRODICAL DAUGHTER Nipomo High School grad and now Nashville singer-songwriter Katie Boeck returns to the area to perform Joni Mitchell's iconic album Blue, on Dec. 12, in the Cark Center. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE BOECK
  • Photo Courtesy Of Katie Boeck
  • PRODICAL DAUGHTER Nipomo High School grad and now Nashville singer-songwriter Katie Boeck returns to the area to perform Joni Mitchell's iconic album Blue, on Dec. 12, in the Cark Center.

Nipomo High School grad Katie Boeck sings Joni Mitchell's iconic album Blue on Sunday, Dec. 12, in the Clark Center (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $30 to $42 at clarkcenter.org). Considered one of Mitchell's best albums filled with vulnerability and honesty, Blue features classic tracks such as "Carey," "River," and "A Case of You." The show features Boeck (piano, guitar, and dulcimer), Michael Gannon (guitar, vocals), Chris Benelli (percussion), and Makenna Hartlin (background Vocals).

Holiday singles

Two of our best female performers have released holiday singles this season, and they're both terrific.

Dulcie Taylor released the original "This Christmas Is Going To Be Great," a folky-Americana-bluesy holiday song.

"This song, to me, says how I feel about Christmas—joy, hallelujahs, and loved ones," Dulcie said. "Last Christmas was sad for so many people—a shutdown affair that didn't have the best part of the season, sharing time with loved ones, face-to-face. This Christmas, 2021, is definitely going to be better for most of us."

Meanwhile, Ynana Rose has released a lovely version of "Silent Night," which she calls "a winter lullaby—spare, gentle, and kind. When I was a little girl, Christmas was a simple affair. We cut a small tree from the woods and celebrated around the old wood stove in our rustic cabin. This is one of the few songs that I can remember my mother singing to me around the holidays, and I tried to capture her spirit in this recording."

Both tracks can be found on most music platforms and streaming services. Δ

Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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