It’s tough keeping track of Pokey LaFarge, even in the relatively tight confines of KDHX. One minute, he’s in Studio A, recording a voice-over spot with 88.1 fm production ace Andy Coco, while documentarian Bill Streeter rolls video. The next minute, out one door into another, he’s sitting in on Bob’s Scratchy Records, with host Bob Reuter. Before he rolled to lunch with Streeter (“my lunch date, it’s a little bit of bromance”), we grabbed Pokey for a couple seconds, to get a feeling about his DJ set this coming weekend. Clad sharply, as always, in a brown suit and wingtips, LaFarge was just in the studio with a man known for spinning 45s, so we asked about their appearance on Saturday.
Will you be playing any 45s?
Some 45s, but mostly 78s and 33s. I bring in a couple of my own 78 players, just to see which sound best.
How many 78s in your collection, total?
I don’t know. I’d say, probably between 500 and 700. I’m always editing down, you know what I mean? But I’d say that I have about 500 that I’m proud of.
You probably have a lot of people trying to pass their collection along?
With people who like to collect, you’re trading all the time. I’ll maybe take a 78 for a while, I’ll harbor it and then pass it along. They all need a home. Some 78 collectors specialize in a certain thing, so you know a guy and that he’ll want a specific piece. It’s like trading baseball cards, which I did quite a bit of when I was a kid. I’ve just moved from baseball to music.
Anything you particularly enjoy about spinning records at The Royale?
For one, it’s brick. The lighting. The faces on the wall, in the photographs and artwork. The great cocktails and great customer service. I think it’s important to point out that The Royale has a very well-rounded clientele. I’d venture to say that it’s not just people from the South Side, it’s people from all over.
You just spun records in the room on New Year’s Eve. How’d that go?
That was somethin’ else, man. It gave me an opportunity to wear a tuxedo, which is not every day. Everybody there was looking beautiful. The food and booze was extravagant. And I got to spin my records. It was definitely one of the most special New Year’s Eves that I’ve had. And the good thing about a party at The Royale is that you’ve probably never been to a party with that theme before, whether you like Presidents, beards, pigtails or tuxedos.
Note: Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three are now found on the jukebox at The Courtesy Diner. The next time you’re at our neighboring establishment, drop a quarter for our local heroes. Perhaps after your visit The Royale this weekend, with Pokey LaFarge on the 78s decks on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 10 p.m.-close.