Toronto, Canada – Rebecca and Megan Lovell are the sisters that make up the blues rock band Larkin Poe. With a name as cool and distinct as that, you clearly must be asking what it means. When you hear the name “Poe”, there is an extreme likelihood that you will immediately think of the American writer Edgar Allan. So there clearly must be a link, right? Well, that is correct! The sisters’ great-great-great-grandfather is actually a cousin of the famous poet and writer. His name? Larkin Poe!
Currently based in the music capital of the world Nashville, Tennessee (and one of the coolest places I personally have ever visited), the Grammy nominated Lovell sisters were born in Atlanta, GA. Just 20 months apart in age, the duo currently known as Larkin Poe had their musical start in 2005 when the pair were just teenagers. After the break up of their original band The Lovell Sisters, Rebecca and Megan banded together to form Larkin Poe in 2010.
To date, Larkin Poe has released seven studio albums. The first album Kin was released in 2014, and most recently, the band released Blood Harmony in 2022. Being known for constantly touring the globe, March 15, 2023 saw the band bring their “Blood Harmony 2023 North American Tour” to Toronto’s Opera House with supporting act Tall Heights.
I have a covered a number of indie shows thus far this year, and the demographic has been a much younger crowd than shows I am historically used to going to. With the sisters of Larkin Poe being only in their early 30s, I was expecting something similar, despite the blues, blues rock, bluegrass, folk style blues genre they dabble in. I was wrong to a certain extent. As I lined up outside the venue ahead of doors opening, yes, there were definitely a lot of young fans here, but there were also a lot of older fans too. Some even older than me. Any blues show I have attended tends to be an older crowd, so I’m not sure why this struck me as odd on this night. One thing is for sure, Larkin Poe has made a serious dent here and have drastically closed the age gap between Gen Z and Baby Boomers. What better way to do this than through music?
The opening band on this tour is a folk duo called Tall Heights out of Boston, Massachusetts. Consisting of cellist/vocalist Paul Wright and guitarist/vocalist Tim Harrington, the sound that emanated from this two-piece was insane! Without any fill of drums, or electric guitars, it was hard to believe the sound was so full and loud. With some completely original (at least as far as I have ever seen) moments where the band asked the crowd to call the person beside them, put their phones on speaker and pair them up with each other (which caused a wicked chirping throughout the concert hall), and the musicians unplugging themselves literally for the grand finale, and letting the acoustics of the Opera House carry their voices and unplugged instruments, this was one of the best opening bands I’ve seen. They are definitely worthy of a Google at bare minimum.
When the 9:00 hour hit, Larkn Poe burst onto the stage for their opening track “Strike Gold”. It was a hard and heavy start as the girls ran from side to side, up onto the drum riser, and used the whole Opera House platform to their full advantage. Seemingly wanting to get as close to the crowd as physically possible, short of walking out into the packed venue, the microphone stands were set up right to the top of the stage. Speaker stacks were set up on the floor on either side of the stage to allow the artists even closer access to their fans as they waled out onto the stacks playing their guitars.
Lead vocalist/electric guitarist Rebecca Lovell and slide guitarist Megan Lovell got into blues roots when they were in their teens. One of their biggest heroes was the great blues guitarist Robert Johnson, who is arguably one of the greatest blues players to ever live. In honor of this legendary influencer, Larkin Poe covers his track song “Preachin’ Blues” as the fourth song in their set. With their take on the song, a definite southern rock, bluegrass vibe and a slide guitar intro, the crowd is completely engaged. Rebecca screams out “Come on Toronto, SING IT” and the crowd obliges. As I look out, there are huge smiles, and the crowd is rockin’ out!
There is a clearly visible connection between the two sisters as they frequently come close together on stage. Ahead of the 6th track, Rebecca addresses the crowd again. Her interactions are very natural, and unforced. She’s amazed that Toronto “sold out the show”, and asks if they feel like sardines, as they are stuffed in, shoulder to shoulder. She goes on to say how it’s great for everybody to get together as if we all know each other, yet we do not know each other. With her clear love for her sister, she explain the next song was written for her sister, and all the other women out there. The band then goes into the completely bluesy “She’s a Self Made Man”. So far, the crowd is as happy as any I’ve seen, signing and dancing along with the band on stage.
The 8th track “Holy Ghost Fire” is from the album that garnered Larkin Poe with a Grammy nomination, and we are dazzled by a slide guitar solo from Megan. While there are bits throughout every song that highlight her talents as a slide guitarist, this solo knocks it up a level (or 3). She comes out onto those strategically placed floor speakers and crouches down onto her knees to get even closer to the crowd, still in the midst of her shining moment. The crowd goes completely wild, and for the first time I get a sincere hint of the musician’s humbleness. She even seems a tad on the shy side, after hearing the adoration from her fans.
The first real break in the raucous set comes in for the 11th track of the night, “Mad as a Hatter”. It’s a song that Rebecca explains was written when she was 15 years old, for her grandfather who dealt with mental illness at a time when these types of illnesses were never spoken about and dealt with as they are today. Megan’s interaction, at least verbally has been limited up to this point, but she steps up to the mic and adds that mental illness thrives in the dark. Bringing it to the light and speaking about it makes the fear go away. So, she urges people who are struggling to open up, as difficult as it seems. The track slows down the pace of the set thus far, and is one of the best tracks that showcases the sisters’ vocal abilities and the harmonies on this are superb. And the lyrics are heavy. Hard to believe this was written by such a young musician.
As the rest of the evening progresses, the songs continue their fast, rockin’ tempo. The crowd is completely engaged through the whole evening as is the band. The chosen set for this show was a perfect mix of groovy beats, blues roots, rock and soul. It perfectly showcased the band’s range of musical influences, and their ability to perform within many different genres, while maintaining that blues core. There were so many highlights from this show, I could have written a full short story. It was super fun and I’m certain this one is going to be on a few “Best of” lists for 2023.
I can’t see a world where the power these girls elicit through their music does not evolve from Grammy nominees to Grammy winners.
- Strike Gold
- Kick the Blues
- Summertime Sunset
- Preachin’ Blues
- GA Off My Mind
- She’s a Self Made Man
- Southern Comfort
- Holy Ghost Fire
- Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues
- Blue Ridge Mountains
- Mad as a Hatter
- Might as Well be Me
- Bad Spell
- Wanted Woman
- Bolt Cutter & The Family Name
- Walk on Track
- Deep Stays Down
show date: March 15, 2023