An Evening With Pokey Lafarge and Dan Tana
One day I was tuning into Fresh Air and Terri Gross was interviewing someone I had never heard of – the musician Pokey Lafarge. Instead of turning it off I was intrigued. Fresh Air has a tendency to introduce me to new topics (sometimes pleasant sometimes unpleasant) and I’ve learned to keep an open mind. Turns out Mr. Lafarge is somewhat of a virtuoso. Armed with a vast knowledge of Jazz, Country and American roots music he’s carved out a career of creating music that while steeped in the past is distinctly modern. I was instantly smitten and immediately downloaded an album. I also looked up his tour dates and found he would be swinging through LA. Without hesitation I purchased a ticket to his show.
After a couple months the evening arose and though I was looking forward to it I was more curious than excited. I really enjoyed his albums but I hadn’t grown immediately obsessed like I had when I discovered Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald and Radiohead. So Shannon (who was also more interested than excited) and I headed down to the Troubadour to see what the evening would bring.
In reality, I was most excited about finally visiting the Troubadour. Founded in 1957 the famed club has hosted such legendary acts as Elton John, Neil Young, Steve Martin, Joni Mitchell and more. I’d been long wanting to visit and finally had a reason to go.
I’d like to say walking into the venue was like stepping back in time and that I could feel history come alive but it was really just like walking into any music venue. It was much smaller than I expected but otherwise fairly ordinary. But as I waited for the show to start and I looked around I realized why. Who cares what the venue looks like? What matters is what’s on stage and at the Troubadour it’s all about what’s on stage.
And what was on stage was amazing. The band consists of seven members and they play a variety of instruments including the drums, upright bass, harmonica, saxophone and trumpet. Each song was imbued with an energy that sent the whole audience moving. During the two hour set it was impossible to stand still. From covers to original compositions the songs were performed with a passion that was felt by all. Mr. Lafarge was in fine voice and we were his enraptured audience.
I fully admit I’m gushing but it had been some time since I enjoyed a concert so immensely. When it was over I felt like I was drunk but I had no alcohol that night. There was no way we could go home yet so Shannon and I headed to next door to another legendary spot I’d long wanted to visit – Dan Tana’s.
Dan Tana’s opened in 1964 and has long been a Hollywood hot spot. As soon as you walk in there’s a photo of Frank and Dean on the wall. That’s all I needed to know it was my kind of place.
The restaurant is know for it’s late night hours and I must admit it’s the first time I ate dinner at midnight. I went for the homemade gnocchi and it was fantastically good. Combined with the checkered tablecloths, hanging chianti bottles and a charming maitre d’ it was a dinner I’ll never forget.
Pokey LaFarge and Dan Tana – who knew it’d be a match made in heaven?