Preview: Larkin Poe and Goodnight, Texas at Commonwealth

For more than a decade, Larkin Poe has delivered their electrified, modernized, Southern-fried rockin’ blues to stadiums and festivals all across the globe. On Friday, Jan. 27, 2023 we get a chance to see them up close and personal at The Commonwealth Room.

Sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell from Georgia, who make up Larkin Poe, are reinvigorating the blues by blending their blood harmonies with super-charged guitar and lap steel riffs. They’re touring in support of their new record Blood Harmony, a great rockin’ blues album that weaves threads of home and family together into a complicated, sometimes painful narrative. In the first chords of the opening track, “Deep Stays Down” Megan Lovell’s haunting swamp blues slide guitar riff takes us somewhere dark and foreboding while sister Rebecca’s soulful voice tells us about the subterranean demons that get buried in the rural South with lyrics like: “The cat’s in the bag, the bag’s in the river and the river runs deep and the deep stays down.” 

The title track “Blood Harmony” celebrates growing up in a musical family and singing with a sibling to create powerful blood harmonies. Rebecca sings: “More than flesh, more than bone. When I sing, I don’t sing alone.” The sister’s bittersweet move from Georgia to Nashville is captured in the radio-ready, Bonnie Raitt-styled “Georgia Off My Mind.” One of my favorite tracks on this amazing record is “Bad Spell.” Rebecca Lovell pens a clever response to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 1950s macabre blues classic “I Put a Spell on You” from the perspective of the spellbound. The sisters offer us a bad-ass, full-throttled rockin’ blues retort. “Boy, you cast a bad spell, a bad spell over me. And when I catch you, you’re gonna catch hell. I’m gonna get ya in the first degree.”

The Grammy-nominated duo is firmly rooted in the blues and they offer a fresh, new, female perspective that’ll lead the genre into the 21st century. Fun fact: The band is named for the Lovell sister’s great, great, great grandfather, Larkin Husky Poe, who was a cousin of the gothic writer Edgar Allen Poe. That dark literary DNA passed to the Lovell sisters making the blues the perfect vehicle for their artistic expression.

Larkin Poe put a fresh coat of paint on Son House’s 1930s blues standards, “John the Revelator” and “Preachin’ Blues” making them shine for a new generation of listeners. Ninety years ago Lead Belly recorded a 1-minute acapella version of an old, southern field workers’ song “Black Betty” which recounts oppression, injustice and living under the whip. Other artists have recorded versions of the standard, but none captured Lead Belly’s intensity until 2017 when Larkin Poe gave the song a new-age authenticity with their powerful foot-stomping female harmonies.

In 2020, Larkin Poe released Kindred Spirits, a full-length album of contemporary covers. Their version of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” features a slower, more acoustic tempo and the duo’s beautiful harmonies transform the song with a haunting and visceral depth. Their renditions of “Nights in White Satin,” “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Fly Away” are also fabulous reworks.

2020 also brought a full dose of new, original material with Self Made Man, a hard-charging album that reached #1 on Billboard’s blues album chart and featured great new power blues ballads like “Holy Ghost Fire.” Rebecca Lovell sings: “lift our voices with the smoke rising higher. Burn with that holy ghost fire.” While Megan Lovell harmonizes to an uptempo beat, both sisters duel it out with thunderous guitar licks.

In 2018, their album Venom and Faith reached #1 on the Billboard blues album chart and received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album. The record produced the single “Bleach Blonde Bottles Blues,” a song that defines the duo’s driving blues guitar and lap steel sound with a thunderclap beat and mesmerizing siren harmonies. 

Opening the evening is American roots quintet Goodnight, Texas, a band fronted by two lead singers and songwriters, Avi Vinocur from San Francisco, and Patrick Dyer Wolf from North Carolina (so, they’re not actually from Texas). Goodnight, Texas is named for the small town halfway between the two, representing the “meet in the middle” of their songcraft. Blending folk, rock and blues, Goodnight, Texas creates a musical landscape of scenic vistas and open roads. Their song “Tucumcari” captures images of the windswept New Mexican town with a gritty western musical soundtrack. The band creates an Old Crow Medicine Show vibe with old-timey styled Americana songs like “The Railroad,” “A Bank Robber’s Nursery Rhyme,” and “Moonshiners.” Their rural roots style will pair well with Larkin Poe’s electrified Delta blues.

Fans of southern-styled blues like the Allman Brothers, Black Crowes, Gary Clark Jr, Samantha Fish, Kaleo, or ZZ Ward won’t want to miss seeing Larkin Poe in the intimate confines of the Commonwealth Room on January 27, 2023. They’re sure to get your feet stompin’, your hands clapping and your head bobbing. I will pair the evening’s music with a fine Golden Spike Hefeweizen from Uinta Brewing. Cheers!

  • Who: Larkin Poe w/Goodnight, Texas
  • What: Blood Harmony Tour
  • Where: Commonwealth Room
  • When: Jan. 27, 2023
  • Tickets and info: thestateroompresents.com

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John Nelson
John Nelsonhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
John Nelson covers the local music scene for Salt Lake magazine. He is a 20-year veteran of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus with a lifelong addiction to American roots music, live music venues, craft beer and baseball.

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