Amp Staff writer Anna Fields managed to snag an interview with ragtime blues aficionado Pokey LaFarge at Meshuggah Cafe. Read on for insights on life, love, and bow ties. [For reference: ME = Anna Fields, P = Pokey LaFarge.]

ME- I wanna know how you got into playing this style of music, what draws you to it?
P-Well, I would have to say that the appeal of it was I’ve always been attracted to acoustic music rather than electric music. I guess that’s at the heart of it. I didn’t really like a lot of music that was coming out when I was a kid. I still don’t like a whole lot of music that’s out today. There is a lot of good stuff, but obviously there is more music that’s coming out today ‘cause it’s easier to record music.
ME- What kind of music do you not like?
P-Well I’m gonna refrain from that. I don’t wanna piss anyone off. But I like all kinds of music, if you are doing it with integrity, if you’re not doing it from a fake side. If you mean what you’re saying and there’s honesty in what you’re playing, then I think you’re doing a good job. Sometimes it’s a little harder to tell that. I started playing this kind of music when I was 14. And I got into playing old time fiddle, I picked up guitar a couple of years ago. I got tired of playing in bands. I found my own voice a wanted to go out on my own. But it’s just that it’s the heart of American music. We created rock n’ roll, we created blues, we created jazz, we created all this stuff. That’s why America is the best. Not cause we have all the money, or cause we have all this other bullshit, it’s the culture. And I’m trying to preserve it. And definatly advance it cause I don’t play a lot of songs… I write my own. I listen to a lot of old time music, I always have.

ME- what’re some of your favorites?
P- I really like clarinet music, I wish I could play the clarinet. Sidney Bechet, the greatest clarinetist of all time. He was rumored to actually kill a guy. His best friend actually.
ME- He killed his best friend?
P- Over a woman, yeah,
ME- Wow.
EDEN- That’s pretty hard core.
ME- Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty hardcore.
P- But anyway, a lot of people from St. Louis. Like Henry Townsend, obviously Chuck Berry and Ike turner are from here, I don’t particularly listen to them all the time. I like more acoustic. But like the reverend Gary Davis. I like a lot of Jug band music, which was created in Louisville. I love Ray Charles, I think he is the greatest singer of all time.
ME- Oh, really?
P- Yeah, especially his country songs. But I like a lot of 20’s and 30’s music. I really like to tell people about that cause it’s not accessible to people always. Well it’s accessible, but people don’t listen to it every day, but they would like it if they heard it.
ME- Do you think that being from Louisville has influenced your style?
P- Oh absolutely, I think it’s because of spending time on a river. A river is a magical thing. I mean granted you grow up on a lake, or you grow up on an ocean, it’s primitive at its heart, so people are influenced by the land that they live on. So being from St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, they’re all river towns. And they’re all the heart of American music.
ME- Yeah, that’s true. Have you spent a lot of time thinking about that?
P- Well, I drive around the country an awful lot, so yeah. I think a lot. I think too much.
ME- Do you have a muse?
P- Rivers and the land defiantly, the country . I really like old cities, that’s why I love St. Louis. The bricks are just amazing. I love bricks. The elements. I’d have to say my ultimate muse would be my girlfriend, we’ve been together almost 5 years now.
ME- Oh, that’s exciting, congrats…
ME- Do you name your instruments?
P- I used to, but I don’t any more.
ME- Got out of the habit?
P- I guess.
ME- Did you name them actual names or…?
P- Yeah, I used to name them actual names.
ME- Girls’ or guys’?
P- Both.
ME- Why [wear] the bow tie, verses a normal tie?
P- A bow tie is so much classier. Perhaps it’s just part of the influence of the music that I listen to. A lot of those people back then wore bow ties as opposed to neckties. It wore off on me, as other things have. I’m sitting here wearing 2 tone shoes…
ME- Do you have a guilty pleasure?
P- Oh god… I probably shouldn’t tell you that one.
ME- You definately should, now that you’ve said that.
P- No, I shouldn’t.
ME- Please…
P- No. I definitely shouldn’t.