Music News & Reviews

These sisters play the blues. Their inspiration? The Allman Brothers.

The sisterly duo of singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalists Larkin Poe will perform at The Burl.
The sisterly duo of singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalists Larkin Poe will perform at The Burl. Credit: Robbie Klein

You could make the argument that when it comes to musical genres, blues isn’t exactly dominating the charts or breaking streaming records. But if you are Larkin Poe, you have a slightly different take on it.

Megan and Rebecca Lovell, the sisterly duo of singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalists frequently look out into sold-out venues and get to see fans singing along to not only their gothic and frequently driving original songs that blend blues, rock and Americana, but also the group’s inventive covers of old blues classics that can be nearly a century old.

“It doesn’t feel that way to us,” Megan said regarding blues music’s apparent waning popularity. “It’s keeping us very busy.”

It’s not just a love of blues that has kept Larkin Poe’s schedule full. The Atlanta-based Lovells, with Megan frequently playing lap steel with Rebecca on a six-string electric, caught eyes and ears when they first came on the scene and quickly became in-demand.

As they self-released several independent EPs and albums, the sisters’ combination of musicianship and harmony led to them to contributing to the music of major artists, whether they were recording on the 2014 recording project of unearthed Bob Dylan songs “Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes” or Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler’s 2016 debut solo album “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere.”

They also served as featured musicians on tours with artists ranging from Conor Oberst and Elvis Costello to Sugarland’s Christian Bush and Keith Urban.

But when it comes to Larkin Poe’s original music, it can be traced back to a varied musical upbringing. Both Megan and Rebecca were encouraged to take classical violin from their mother and listening to The Allman Brothers served as the gateway to a deep dive back through the history of the blues genre.

“The more that we listened, the more we loved it and the more we were really inspired by it,” Megan recalled. “A lot of real slide guitar is just straight-up blues. When you go down and listen to these folks, you can just fall down a rabbit hole of beautiful music and these lesser-known artists that have inspired practically all of American music.”

After the sisters joined their eldest sibling, Jessica, to form the bluegrass group The Lovell Sisters as teenagers (and appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion”), the group disbanded and Larkin Poe formed in 2010.

Throughout the group’s history, it has honed in on a blues-indebted style of gritty roots-rock with sharp, soulful harmonies while incorporating song structures and sonic elements from pop, hip-hop and other genres.

“We have a deep reverence for the blues and great respect for the folks that have made such enduring music, but we definitely have a lot of musical influences,” Megan said. “I think when we are approaching roots music, it’s coming through a lot of different lenses.”

Similar to its 2017 album “Peach,” Larkin Poe went into the studio with just themselves and an engineer to play all the instruments and record its latest 2018 release “Venom & Faith.” The album features even more original material that showcases the group’s invigorating tinkering of the blues genre, whether it’s a bit of marching band snare drum, atmospheric synths and stand-up bass on the carnal “Honey Honey,” the darkness of “Fly Like An Eagle” peppered with programmed drums or in the distinctly female perspective and attitude on the lyrics of “Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues.”

But similar to previous releases, “Venom & Faith” includes Larkin Poe’s iterations of classic or lesser-known blues songs like “Sometimes” by Bessie Jones and “Hard Time King Floor Blues” by Skip James. These were songs that the group performed in its video series of blues covers “Tip O’ The Hat,” which is how blues rock legend Bob Seger’s wife discovered the group and led to the duo joining Seger on his upcoming tour.

As Larkin Poe comes to Lexington to perform at The Burl on Dec. 8, they feel a sense of enthusiasm at every tour stop for a music they’ve grown to love. While they are proud to know they are finding a way to introduce the blues to a new audience, they want to make sure they make their unique presence felt in the genre itself.

“A blues band fronted by two women in the 21st century, what does that sound like?” Megan asked. “We do kind of feel like we are at the forefront of a type of music taking off for women.”

If you go

Larkin Poe with special guests Goodnight, Texas

When: 8 p.m. door opens, 9 p.m. show, Saturday, Dec. 8

Tickets: $20 to $75. 18 and older show

Where: The Burl 375 Thompson Road 859-433-0945