Manic Revelations opens with “Riot in the Streets,” which LaFarge began writing after the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer. While the crack band keeps the tempos upbeat and the horns bright, the lyrics observe the dehumanizing effects of police violence, extreme partisanship and splashy headlines. “Our past won’t go away,” he sings, sounding more present than ever. The evening opens with sets from Esther Rose and Matt Rouch & the Noise Upstairs.
How would Woody Guthrie sing about Black Lives Matter? In the “now more than ever” era, St. Louis troubadour Pokey LaFarge shows one way to take the sonic long view on the current political moment. With a croon like a nasal Bing Crosby, Depression-chic clothing and rusty jazz instrumentation, LaFarge has been pigeonholed as a high-quality novelty act, nostalgic for a hardscrabble time few can remember. Yet over eight albums, the 34-year-old has allowed progressively more personal, contemporary topics to seep into his songwriting. New release