OK Mozart Announces Next In Its Series of House Concerts – Pokey LaFarge

Pokey LaFarge and South City Three Will Be Featured on March 17

Bartlesville, Ok – While the luck of the Irish is usually the St. Patrick’s Day theme, Bartlesville music lovers will celebrate the festive holiday with uniquely American sounds as OK Mozart and Original Artist Agency again join forces to bring the next in their lively series of house concerts to downtown Bartlesville.

This one will feature noted American folk artists, Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three, a band whose last appearance in Green Country was at the famed Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa.

Pokey LaFarge and entourage will perform in Bartlesville on Sunday, March 17 at the Hilton Garden Inn ballroom. “Pokey is our biggest house concert artist to date,” said Shane Jewell, OKM Executive Director, “thus the need for a larger capacity venue.”

Stephen Thompson of NPR FM radio described the group as “artfully dodgy ambassadors for old-time music — hot swing, early jazz and ragtime blues.” Their repertoire is a mix of Americana, early jazz, ragtime for string instruments, country blues, Western swing, Vaudeville and Appalachian folk.

They tear through sounds of the past using the guitar, guitjo, bass, kazoo, tenor banjo, washboard, snare drum, cornet, trombone, piano, lap steel guitar, fiddle, upright bass and harmonica.

Born in Illinois, the nickname “Pokey” was one coined by LaFarge’s mother, who would scold him to hurry when he was a child. He was greatly influenced by his grandfathers, one of whom gave Pokey his first guitar and tenor banjo.

In his early teens he first heard blues in a local pizza parlor run by a man named Juice who played artists like Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. Later he developed an appreciation of blues artists: Skip James, Robert Wilkins and Sleepy John Estes. But after hearing Bill Monroe at the age of 16, Pokey traded the guitar his grandfather gave him for a mandolin.

After high school, LaFarge hitchhiked to the West Coast where he earned a living playing music on sidewalks, streets and pedestrian malls. Continuing his hitchhiking, he met Ryan Koenig and Joey Glynn while playing on a street in Asheville. Adam Hoskins joined Glynn and Koenig to form the South City Three, and the band joined LaFarge in 2009.

While Pokey’s music clearly leans heavily on the bluegrass and country sounds of his idols, it doesn’t come off as an imitation. It just seems to spill out of a completely natural American sensibility. “Actually, it’s like classical music where musicians play music that is hundreds of years old. It’s the same thing,” muses Pokey.

The question about authenticity is one Pokey gets a lot. He’s a 150-pound man who wears Brylcreem in his hair, a newsboy hat, and has a fondness for bow ties. But as far as Pokey the musician is concerned, the “package” as he calls it, is just part of the process of connecting with his audience.

“I have a very clear-cut explanation for almost everything I do — why I dress the way I dress, why I play the music I play. It doesn’t seem strange to me, but it does to some people.

OKM and OAA have brought more than a half-dozen of these “house-concert-style” events to Bartlesville over the past two years in an effort to showcase talent that would otherwise not have a suitable venue in Bartlesville.

“We’re happy to welcome Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three as the featured performers for our next house concert,” said Jewell.  “Events such as these broaden OKM’s programming repertoire. In addition to the excitement this performance will generate in the community, since all of the needed logistical requirements are entirely donated, all proceeds of ticket sales go directly to support the OK Mozart Festival.”

Opening the show will be Austin-based duo and Bartlesville favorites “Loves It” featuring Jenny Parrott (formerly of Shotgun Party) and Vaughn Walters (Leo Rondeau). “’Loves It’ is a perfect match for Pokey as both acts bring a fresh take on American music that has been played for generations,” said Cris Cunningham, OAA owner/agent.

Tickets for this concert are $20 in advance, $25 day of show and are now on sale. Refreshments are included. Tickets can be purchased online at www.okmozart.com, via phone at 918-336-9800, or in person at the OK Mozart Box Office, 415 S. Dewey Avenue. In Tulsa tickets can be purchased at Dwelling Spaces, 309 Detroit Avenue.


The OK MOZART International Festival takes place every June in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and is made possible through the support of many corporate, individual, and foundation patrons throughout the United States. To learn more about patron benefits and sponsorship opportunities, contact Jacky Manning, Development Director, at the OKM Festival office at 918-336-9900.