Pokey LaFarge wsg Esther Rose @ The Egg 11/19/21 -Photography and Recap By: Ed Conway

Written by on November 22, 2021

It was great to be back at The Egg for the first time in over a year and a half, especially for an enjoyable reason (the last was for a memorial service for Greg Haymes).  This time, it was for music, a huge part of Greg’s life.  Andrew Heissler, aka Pokey LaFarge was making his first appearance in Albany, NY, and the Swyer Theater was the perfect intimate setting for an evening of solo performances.  While the pandemic has made for a tough time for musicians for nearly two years, LaFarge took the time to write and produce a new album and he was now touring in support of “In The Blossom Of Their Shade.”  Sadly, also due to the pandemic, he was touring without a band because, as he put it, the more people in a band, the higher the risk of someone getting sick and cancelling the rest of the tour.  

Anyone familiar with The Egg, knows that it’s unique shape (a space age egg laying slightly canted on a pedestal) has led to many quips and jokes from bands, such as, They Might Be Giants ode “Albany (The Egg)” and LaFarge was no different.  As he took the stage, he reeled off one egg or chicken joke after another and implored the audience to do the same, many of which were pretty good, I must admit.  This continued throughout the hour and a half show as they popped into his, or audience members’ heads.  But the evening wasn’t just a reciting of bad “yolks”, it was also a night of wonderful music.

While I am generally not enamored of solo performers, there have been a few exceptions over the years and LaFarge is now one of them.  He showed an ease in front of the audience which allowed him to relate to the not quite half capacity crowd and they responded enthusiastically to both his new songs as well as the older ones.  Being solo also allowed him to show his deftness on his electric and archtop guitars that having a lead guitarist would not allow as he sprinkled cuts off the new album liberally throughout the show.  It’s hard to pin down a genre to put his songs in, he does borrow heavily from Western Swing (he was the Western Swing Artist of the Year at the 2017 Ameripolitan Awards).  Songs, such as “Mi Ideal”  and “To Love Or Be Alone” had a very Spanish style to them, while “Killing Time” had a New Orleans blues feel to it.  But “I Drink Of You” returns to Western Swing.

About an hour into the show, LaFarge was joined on stage by Addie Hamilton for a series of duets.  Her clear voice being a nice counterpoint to LaFarge’s sharper, and slightly whisky barrel tenor voice, although some of the edge may also have had to do with this being the second to last date on the tour.  On the Spanish tinged “Love Is A Four Letter Word”, Hamilton sang solo with LaFarge accompanying on guitar, but moved around the stage intertwining with LaFarge for other songs, such as “Goodbye Barcelona.”  

After Hamilton left the stage, LaFarge dug back into the new CD for “Fine To Me” and a couple of others before saying goodnight.  The appreciative crowd jumped to their feet, and of course, LaFarge and Hamilton obliged them with an encore of the last song on the CD, and last song of the night, “Goodnight, Goodbye (Hope Not Forever), after which the audience again rose for a standing ovation.

Starting off the night was a performer who I had not been familiar with, Esther Rose, whose voice seemed reminiscent of Joanie Mitchell.  Rose started off with “Lower 9 Valentine” alluding to the New Orleans Lower 9th Ward.  After stating “I write the sad songs” Rose launched into “Don’t Blame It On The Moon” a song so lost in love.  One of the highlights came during a four song end of her set of brand new songs that Rose hasn’t yet recorded.  It had to do with some of the men claiming to have “made” such female musical luminaries as Dolly Parton, called “Dream Girl.”

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