They were fantastic!
Unfortunately (or fortunately!), the entire one-and-a-half-hour show was eclipsed by the star-studded encore.
Close your eyes and it’s 1973. Only instead of this blues-based band being fronted by guys, it’s two women!
Rebecca Lovell absolutely slays on the guitar, and her sister Megan plays standup slide. And there’s a bass player and a drummer, both men, and not a hard drive in sight.
It was head-twisting, as in this is exactly the opposite of what is being sold to us by the media, it couldn’t be more different from Beyoncé, 50 years of hip-hop or Harry Styles.
Oh, don’t point to publicity here or there. And don’t talk to me about the Grammy undercard, which only those nominated care about. I’m talking about the general public. How hard is it to reach the public at large? ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE!
Now the way it used to be was fans digested the record and went to see the band live to hear renditions of the songs they were familiar with. But that script has been flipped. Maybe not with the Spotify Top 50 acts, but if you’re outside the pop/hip-hop hegemony that dominates the major labels and the press, what you hope for most is that someone catches you live. This is the essence of the undercard of the festival. Are you so good that people will become fans?
Most acts are not. Because despite their protestations, they’re just not that dedicated, they’re not lifers, unlike the Lovells, who’ve been at it for decades. If you’re not willing to slog it out on the road…
Another interesting note is that we’ve heard for the past decade and a half that it’s all about solo acts, cutting tracks in their bedrooms. But it turns out the road is defined by bands, where the records are secondary.
Anyway, the lights went down and over the PA system was played…WHITE ROOM?
Come on, you remember the intro flourish. Or if you don’t… Streaming services have surfaced all the old tracks, they’re there for the listening, and they’re anything but evanescent, Robert Johnson is forever, and people are now discovering the blues roots that inspired the classic rock acts.
I’ve been waiting for this, for such a long time, but last night I experienced it, I got hope.
So when the girls/women (and believe me they looked young) took the stage I expected them to segue into the Cream classic. But “White Room” stopped and the band started to play and…
I was positively wowed!
Come on, it’s a sentence to see most acts, especially if you don’t know the material. You start checking your phone, wondering if you can sneak out without anybody noticing. But from the very first note last night I was into it, my body was moving involuntarily in tune, I mean this is the sound I was brought up on. Is it for everybody? NOTHING IS FOR EVERYBODY!
Now in the old days, the key would be to record a single. Find that elusive hit. But even that paradigm is dead. Where would it be played? Certainly not on Top 40 radio. And Active Rock is for metal-influenced acts, all multiple generations removed from the progenitors, you need a handbook to decode what is going on there, it’s not for newbies.
So what’s a poor girl to do, who is playing in a rock and roll band? Just go on the road and slay, making fans night by night.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you I heard a hit, but like I stated above, what difference would that make anyway? This was not a cover band. These were originals. Inspired by the classics…
And unlike Fanny, who I saw at the Fillmore East, Larkin Poe was uncompromised, there was no softness around the edges, no pop, you could have closed your eyes and thought it was guys.
And in a world where everything seems to come from a machine, this authentic blues-based rock sound has a humanity and authority lacking from the hit parade.
It brought me back fifty years. When a show was an experience. Which set your mind free and let you drift. Not an excuse to party. Not a few hits with filler, but an emotional excursion.
And the sisters were not trading on their sexuality. You couldn’t watch the show and see sexism at all. They were not trying to titillate us. They came out wearing sneakers, basic outfits, it was all about the music, ALL about the music!
And if you took them to the mall (where no one seems to go anymore), or somewhere public, no one would turn their head. None of the outrageous hair and other “rock star” look that reacted to classic rock and has perpetuated ever since. It wasn’t about looking like a star, it was about letting the music do the talking.
I was into it the whole time; I didn’t want to leave.
And the encore was the two women virtually a cappella.
They announced there were special guests.
This is a feature of an L.A. show. Because everybody lives here. You never know who might show up. And I didn’t know who would show up last night.
It turned out to be Mike Campbell and Steve Ferrone.
Steve sat behind the kit and got comfortable, tested the skins.
And Mike, with his Flintstone-shaped guitar, was getting his fingers loosened up.
It was unmistakable, they were playing RUNNIN’ DOWN A DREAM!
That never would come to me.
But it did last night.
This was not the record, the second cut on “Full Moon Fever,” this was something you could only get live. There was a fuzz in Mike’s guitar, he was slashing and burning, it was the essence of what once was and rarely exists today. It was edgy and visceral, raw and loud. AND IT FELT SO GOOD!
Meanwhile, Ferrone, who made his bones with the Average White Band, is on one hand a metronome, but there is power and precision and it lifted the entire enterprise up a notch.
And Mike starts to sing the song he cowrote…
And damned if it didn’t sound like Tom, you could hear (and feel!) that southern accent.
And he traded verses with Rebecca.
And the whole thing was a freight train rollin’ down the track. And the train kept a-rollin’, unfortunately not all night long, but for much longer than I expected.
And I expected, hoped for more. I mean these two had made the trek.
But it was not to be.
So what was it?
Well, the Fonda holds 1,200. And who was there… Upstairs, mostly oldsters. Much more aged than the band. They remembered this sound.
But oldsters like to sit. What about downstairs, on the floor, where you’re forced to stand?
Well, a lot of thirty and fortysomethings.
And I scanned the crowd on the way out and there were definitely twentysomethings there, but they were in the distinct minority.
You see the oldsters remember this sound. And they yearn for more. More than the oldies repeated on the radio. More than the acts with plastic surgery trying to bring us back to what once was. They want something new and vibrant.
And that’s Larkin Poe!
Responses from Bob’s readers – these comments are posted as is and not edited for content or grammar.
I was with you on Larkin Poe. I roamed the hall and ended up right down front because the Allman’s, ZZ Top, & Led Zeppelin were in the air but with harmonized blues shouting vocals. The look of the place, the size and that incredible band. Tight as a snare from weeks on the road. The played like THEY MEANT IT. I time travelled back to a hundred concerts at the Fillmore East. Larkin Poe were transcendent. That doesn’t much happen anymore. Did I mention the vocals!!
Small note, I love their Covers. Missed one or two of those, especially their soulful “Bell Bottom blues.” But “Running Down a Dream” with Campbell, Rebecca & Megan toe to toe was Duane & Dickie for 2023, and most of all they made it all their own.
Will Lee sent me your letter about Larkin Poe. Wonderful! I’ve been a supporter of their music since I met them in 2017, and they are a staple of my radio show. They play wonderfully, and have a musical community around them that encourage me to think that the art of making music isn’t dead, or dying. Goodnight Texas are going to get a play on my next show too. I do my bit on Tom Petty Radio to help keep musicianship a focus. It’s not much, but for some of these hard working musicians it’s a lot as the “business” seems more focused on if you can “vogue” more than if you actually have substance as an artist. I felt the need to reach out and tell you that I really appreciated your ability to put into words my feelings about this wonderful art we call music.
I was there last night as well. I’ve been into Larkin Poe for some time and convinced some friends to go too.
What a fantastic show! I was was mesmerized by Rebecca and Megan!
I was at the show with my 19-year-old son who loves 70’s rock and we both loved the show. He’s been listening to Running Down a Dream all day since.
The whole show was fresh and hard-driving, but a huge highlight was their cover of Preaching Blues by Son House. Letting Megan lead it off with a long lap steel solo – divine.
Best rock and roll sister act since Heart?
Saw Larkin Poe open for E. Costello here in Fort Lauderdale at the Broward Center back in 2015. They were new to the “scene” and I got to interview them in one of the dressing rooms for Deco Drive, the Miami-based entertainment news show I work for. Megan and Rebecca couldn’t have been nicer — or cooler. We talked guitars, we talked guitarists, we talked the art of covering songs — we talked way longer than I thought we would. I walked out a major fan, the way you do when you meet an act and connect with them. Later that night, they knocked me out with their set.
I’m sure there are folks who can tell you their entire genesis but I first came aware of them during the lockdown when everyone was making and posting home videos. I have no idea how theirs first got on my FB feed but I soon followed them. They seemed to make several videos a week, all classic covers. Their playing and singing was top notch and their sister harmonies are perfect. Also, they’re pretty cute (show biz, after all).
The re-hits kept coming and they proved their depth. I believe their Dad is a musician, so it’s in their genes. And they were ready to go when things started opening up.
I’ve not seen them live but their live videos are fantastic.
Songs, yeah. But I’m sure everyone in LA and Nashville are clamoring to write with them so we’ll see. I mean, who writes songs like “xxx” from 1963-1985 anymore anyway?
About them “sounding like guys”, if you take a not-too-deep dive on YouTube, it won’t take long to realize that “playing like a girl” ain’t a diss anymore and hasn’t been for quite some time.
Jack Morer NYC
I’m glad you dug it and gave them a nod. 3 years ago when The Immediate Family played the Legends Rock Cruise with a bunch of other great but older acts, they were incongruously booked. Didn’t know them so I went to see their set. Like you, I was in from the first bar. And they are humble and personable as well, no rockstar attitude, it’s all about the music.
I love this story . . . Sounds like a great night!
My daughter and I went to the Mercury Lounge in NYC’s East Village to see Larkin Poe a few years ago . . . I was floored by their show, their chops, and when we got a chance to hang for a minute after the show, they were wonderful, engaging, humble, and friendly!
I love their music, the grit that they’ve shown by staying in the game, and their trajectory reminds me of a couple of other bands, The Warning on Lava and Ripe on Glassnote. All three bands are literally one hit single from taking over the industry . . . get ready to open the floodgates!
I believe Jason Flom saved rock-n-roll when he signed Greta Van Fleet . . . Perhaps Larkin Poe, The Warning, and Ripe are about to bring the rock format back to the mainstream for good!
Be well, God bless, and GOGETEM Bob . . . You ROCK!!!
PS – I met Mike at The Joint several years ago when Mudcrutch filled in for Waddy one night. What a nice guy . . . it’s so refreshing to meet a Rock-N-Roll Hall of Famer who feels just as comfortable with a bar crowd as in a stadium. Must have been electric at The Fonda!
about ten years ago I drove a limo all day for the Lovell sisters and the rest of the band supporting a private gig in SC behind Kristian Bush. By the end of the day, I was their committed fanboy. They were the nicest, most down to earth people I’d met in a long time. On the way to the venue that night, I realized Rebecca was battling a raging stomach flu. As l watched from the wings, I was amazed at the energy and professionalism she showed, knowing she probably wanted to go barf behind the stacks. One of the gutsiest things I’ve ever watched. They were just launching Larkin Poe (Edgar Allen was an ancestor) and I became a slavish fan. Bring it, ladies! You add some much-needed class to today’s music world.
Larkin Poe are undeniably GREAT! Excellent players and writers and they’re blessed with strong passionate voices that blend perfectly in sibling harmony. They’re indeed the real deal.
I’m glad you’ve helped bring some more positive attention to them and their rootsy blues rock, Bob.
They are a killer band. Waited for about 2 years for them to come to Seattle and it was everything I expected. Blood Harmony their new release is unique in that every cut is a good listen. Bob, you are correct, for us classic rockers they are a definite throwback and we do remember!
“Self Made Man” is f**kin “pipe layer”
I’ve seen many YouTube cuts of LP. They’re organic and authentic. Taking the blues and making it their own sound. Hard to do in these times. Making their guitars talk..
Years ago Megan and Rebbecca performed with older sister Jessica. They lived about 30 miles down the road in Calhoun. They were about 15, 17, & 19 at the time and really hitting hard in the bluegrass world. As I recall Rebecca one year won the mando contest in Wifiled, Kansas. She could really tear into the mando with great fluidity and precision. I am sure they have worked hard to master their craft. The sisters had all taken classical violin lessons and probably piano as well. I have had the pleasure of seeing them “grow up” musically so to speak. A group I play with was forrtunate enough to open for them a few times. Nice talented young ladies pursuing their own path! I always love it when I hear one of their songs played on the area NPR affiliate. Soulful, passionate, and well crafted songs.
I’ve been a major fan of Larkin Poe for years (have you by any chance seen their tiny desk version of Phil Collins’ “In The Air” tonight?”): https://youtu.be/I-PDliZYV_c
Thrilled that you highlighted them like this. They’re the real deal and the antithesis of “pretty good for a girl.” They’re just plain great, and they make it look easy, which is the definition of genius.
John Henry Jones
love them…they’ve been at it for years and as you said they are the real thing…
I told you so!! A couple years ago I wrote to you that Larkin Poe was slaying it and that the future of rock Is female.
Man, I’d have paid to see this show. Just listened to some of their music, they’re on my radar now.
“I got hope”.
I’ve been reading your column awaiting this feeling/these words.
Bonus: “emotional excursion”.
Well worth the read.
Thank you Larkin Poe!
I saw Larkin Poe at the Peach Festival a couple years ago pre pandemic. They were playing the main stage at noon. Not many people were awake yet and they missed out I was hooked and got their albums.
So great to hear you call them out. We fell in love with them on the jb ktba cruise when they were an unknown baby band 6 or 7 years ago. We now see them everytime and they keep getting better and better. They are also opening for some high end big names. Reminds me of Samantha fish and her meteoric rise the last few years.
Thank you sir!
We saw Larkin Poe at willie Nelson’s outlaw festival last summer. They killed. I started a Spotify station from them. Nathaniel Ratcliffe was undone by his sound man and lightning designer. Billy Strings was incredible. No lighting tricks. Just kick ass guitarists. But for me, Larkin Poe stole the show.
Glad you found them.
FYI… Steven Ferrone
Acyually he “made his bones” with Brian Auger & The Oblivion Express where he replaced Robbie McIntosh. Robbie left to form AWB and when he passed was replaced by… Steven Ferrone!
Very cool, I like their music but have never seen them live. Yet.
Authentic music…..it’s the reason my career has been devoted to Blues and Roots Rock.
Thanks Bob,they rock.I found out about them in guitar magazines.I love their shows,and wish them the best.Thanks Bob,stay well,Ted Keane
Bob, I’ve been waiting since 2014 for you to take notice of these power sisters. They registered on my radar when I saw them playing in Sugarland’s Kristian Bush’s band in Chester, PA. They were a powerhouse pair. Megan’s slide playing and Rebecca on guitar and mandolin were badass, I had a nice conversation with them in which they told me the origin of their name (an ancestor, I believe) and Rebecca and I shared our enthusiasm for Rickenbacker horseshoe pickups. It’s so great to see them get the recognition for which they’ve tirelessly worked.
So happy you enjoyed Larkin Poe. I first heard them three years ago at the Mariposa Folk Festival north of Toronto, and again at the Edmonton Folk Festival last summer. The breadth of their repertoire is amazing, b ut my best memory was when they played a small daytime workshop stage with two superlative Canadian guitarists, Cecile du Kingue and Kevin Breit. The look of surprise, amazement and joyful pleasure on their faces was something to see. These women are so open to new things, but will always stay rooted in the blues. And, yes, they ARE fantastic!
These (then) very young ladies warmed up Elvis Costello and his band almost 10 years ago at Interlochen (in northern Michigan). We had A) never heard of them before, and B) were absolutely FLOORED. They looked about 16 at the time, but had the swagger, talent and stage acumen of Ann & Nancy Wilson in 1978. The sisters were a revelation that night, and we’ve been following them ever since. The real nod was, Elvis invited them onstage for the last few numbers of the night with his band. Elvis doesn’t do that to teenage nobodies unless they seriously warrant props. And, they did.
Thank you, Elvis.
I first heard of Larkin Poe when I saw them as Elvis Costello’s band mates at the Paramount Theater in Denver back in 2016. I was absolutely blown away. The chemistry between them and EC was beautiful. It was a companion piece to his biography and while the show was absolutely focused on his music and life Larkin Poe brought an energy to his songs that I’ll never forget. Thanks for the review of their recent show. I hope to see them as headliners after reading this.
Between 2020-2021, I produced a podcast called “Past, Present, Future, Live” which featured conversations with artists about the music that influenced their careers. At the end of each episode, each guest performed a 3-song set, on video, which usually included a cover or two inspired by the conversation, plus songs from their own catalog. This was during the in-and-out of lockdown, so most guests were still off the road and game to do the live performance. (and we got some incredible performances as a result)
At the urging of one of my co-producers, we booked Larkin Poe for an episode. I’d never heard of them, but he was sold on their talent. When I received their 3-song set after the interview was recorded, I was floored. It just was a simple video of Rebecca and Megan playing “Who Do You Love” plus their tunes “Self Made Man” and “Holy Ghost Fire”, but their exceptional talent and obvious love for what they do made it a moment. When I tell people to listen to the episode, I encourage them to watch the video first, then go back and listen to the podcast episode.
The thing about Larkin Poe — and a generation of musicians who are their peers, like Maggie Rose, Tyler Bryant (who also happens to be Rebecca’s husband), Daniel Donato, Emily Wolfe, Gary Clark Jr., Black Pistol Fire, to name a few — is that they truly embody the rock and roll spirit that you write so often about. They’ve got talent and dedication, but they’ve also got soul. And that’s the thing that turns just another concert into a transcendent experience.
Larkin Poe don’t mess around. I can’t wait to see them at Webster Hall next month.
— Kirsten Cluthe
Glad to hear you’re now an official Poe Boy.
Great to see you giving some love to our hometown women, Larkin Poe. They’ve worked their asses off, year after year. They’ve toured, they’ve played, they’ve backed others, they’ve written songs, they’ve toured, and they’ve toured, and they’ve toured. They come upon their skills and sound the hard way, they’ve worked at it. They’ve always been good and it’s nice to see them finally getting the recognition they deserve. Years ago they recorded a video at my house (I’m not sure they ever released the song, but they should!) Was honored to know them then and now. Thanks, Matt Arnett Atlanta, GA Here’s the video-Larkin Poe, Mad As A Hatter
Wow! Thanks so much for the review. Never heard of them and after a diet of YouTube I am an instant fan. BTW, I am 78 years old. Not too old to dig great music.
Welcome to the bandwagon Bob (not meant as a backhanded compliment) LP have are a great live act and while for my money on record they sometimes get a little too slick it’s great to see young artists keeping this sound alive. The Blues has never been a mainstream top 40 genre so the chances of it being heard on mainstream radio or showing up in a spotify top whatever list is about buckleys to none. That being said, there’s more than a few great modern day acts flying the blues flag if you’re willing to go searching for them and I highly suggest you do.
Video here, and yes, it rocked!
“Larkin Poe – Running Down a Dream, Fonda Theatre, Hollywood CA, Feb 11, 2023”