Sister Act Plays for First Friday
BY KATHERINE SMITH
Special to The Pilot
Larkin Poe is the name of the unorthodox great-great-great-grandfather of Georgia musicians Rebecca and Megan Lovell.
Folklore ebbs around his memory as a distant cousin of Edgar Allan Poe and a moonshiner, so the sisters felt that his name appropriately titled their symbolism-filled homegrown sound. On First Friday, June 1, Larkin Poe will be playing from 5 to 8:30 p.m. on the grassy lot next to the Sunrise Theater in downtown Southern Pines. Admission is free, and The Sly Fox will be on-site with food available for purchase. The event is sponsored by the Sunrise.
The Lovell sisters grew up above Atlanta, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
"Rebecca and I were tomboys, and our family has deep Southern roots," Megan says. "We were always running through the woods and building forts."
They were tamed by classical violin and piano lessons at ages 5 and 6, and were introduced to classic rock like the Allman Brothers and the Eagles on their dad's stereo - a contrast that tuned their ears to various types of music.
"We were then introduced to roots music in our mid-teens at the Signal Mountain Opry in Tennessee," Megan says. "We were so inspired that we quit classical lessons."
The two, along with their eldest sister, Jessica, went from a light touring schedule to traveling and playing full time after being chosen out of 300 applicants to perform on "A Prairie Home Companion."
Since Jessica left the band to marry and finish school in 2009, the newly named Larkin Poe has played at Bonnaroo, MerleFest, opened for Elvis Costello, and also toured extensively in Europe.
"Becoming Larkin Poe gave us a lot more room to expand and do our own writing," Megan says. "We picked up drums and electrical instruments, and now we play anything from bluegrass, country, rock, jazz and the blues."
Megan, 21, plays the lap-steel and the Dobro, and Rebecca, 23, plays a three-quarter guitar and the mandolin.
While their sound is similar to Kate Voegele, Bela Fleck and Donna the Buffalo, Larkin Poe's lyrics are veiled with piercing revelations beyond their years and the stereotypes as a "girl band."
Their bluesy song "Play On" is inspired by William Shakespeare's quote "If music be the food of love...," and "Taller Far Than a Tall Man" off the "Winter" EP "encapsulates what J.D. Salinger books are to me," Rebecca says.
She tells the story of something she recently saw and heard in a mom-and-pop restaurant where she and her boyfriend were eating.
"In the booth facing me were this odd little couple, and they were having this deep discussion," Rebecca says. "That's where a lot of my songwriting comes from, by the way - by people watching and eavesdropping. So they were talking about not taking each other for granted and not being snappish with each other. The woman kept saying, 'We're not a given. We're not a given.' That may be our next song."
The two say they draw from anything - as insignificant as Facebook statuses and people at airports, to solemn history stories and the vastness of nature.
"There was this old stop shop on the Appalachian Trail that was teeming with hikers," Rebecca says. "It smelled like granola and bananas and trail mix and protein shakes. Back behind it was a stone patio overlooking the mountain and just this amazing vista over the pristine forest. I wrote a couple of songs while just sitting there."
The sisters say that just as a good book should incite your own search for its truth, their songs hint without betraying their meaning. Conversely, according to reviews, they juxtapose the mystery of their lyrics with the ease of their personalities.
"That's our yin and yang," Rebecca says. "We want the audience to really take part among themselves and us. The White Stripes can make you feel angsty and classical music can make you feel majestic, but we want people to feel uplifted."
"This type of music is real and raw, and it's all about the journey," Megan says. "It's what you play in your living room. It's for grandmothers and their grandchildren. It's about pain and suffering and joy and the passion of the journey."
Larkin Poe's music is available on iTunes and from Amazon.com. They have music videos up on YouTube, and more information can be found at larkinpoe.com.
"We're two girls who like to shred on their instruments," Rebecca says, "and we're looking forward to playing in North Carolina again."
Katherine Smith is a former Pilot intern.
More like this story