Larkin Poe bringing new music to Riverbend Festival

Larkin Poe is sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell, from left. / photo
Larkin Poe is sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell, from left. / photo

Rebecca and Megan Lovell have been touring with their musical careers since their teen years; first as the Lovell Sisters with sibling Jessica, then re-forming as Larkin Poe after the sister act disbanded.

The pairing of Rebecca's rich-as-honey contralto voice that's able to belt out the blues with soulful grit, and Megan's edgy lapsteel riffs is an unbeatable combination that has earned them the notice of Elvis Costello, Kristian Bush, Paul Shaffer, Joe Bonamassa, Bob Seger and T Bone Burnett, to name a few.

Two years ago, they were tapped to be part of the backing band at the MusiCares tribute to Tom Petty in Los Angeles.

Last year, they toured with Keith Urban then Bob Seger - and somehow still managed to release their fourth studio album, "Venom & Faith," in November.

Wednesday night, May 29, the sisters are playing the Riverbend Festival. They'll be on the Bud Light Stage at 6:15 p.m.

On a rare day off last week, they talked about their new album and what they're learning from life on the road.

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Q: You've toured and been onstage with some of the biggest names in music. What advice have they given you that still serves you well?

Megan: Being on the road with Keith Urban five to six months was our first opportunity to play huge stages and arenas. He taught us how to move on those large stages and play to those large audiences. He is such a consummate performer! We felt super lucky to be out on the road with him.

Rebecca: Obviously, when talking about Keith Urban, Paul Shaffer or Bob Seger, those are very different artists in the way they perform and in their genres. But the constant in all those artists is to be confident, be truly yourself. Those guys have found out who they are, what their message is and stayed true to it. It's good for us to see that kind of authenticity.

Q: What was the goal for "Venom & Faith"?

Rebecca: In 2017, we made "Peach" and that was the first project we co-produced together. It was a really cool experience for just the two of us to get in the studio and create a raw record and channel material our fan base was really craving at the time. (They then co-produced "Venom & Faith.")

We knew we wanted to give our fan base a little deeper look at us as individuals - more personal lyrics, push some boundaries with the sound landscape, including some of the weird sounds, being a little more edgy with songs, throwing some curveballs. We are really proud of the record we created.

Q: There are horns on the opening track, "Sometimes." Is this the first time you've used them?

Megan: When we were in the studio recording that song, Rebecca thought it would be fun to have a horn section, and I said, "Great, go write it."

Rebecca: Yes, this is the first time in recent history. I do think that's one of the biggest beauties to co-producing: It allowed so much more freedom to chase ideas in the back of my head.

Q: You have a new fuzz pedal made by ZVex. Is this your first commercial collaboration?

Megan: I love ZVex pedals. Zachary Vex is an eccentric genius who came to a show of ours and brought us some pedals. That started the conversation. Rebecca pitched the idea of doing a "Peaches and Scream" pedal. He was totally up for it. We're excited for the pedal to come out. We're going to release a limited run to begin with and follow up with more pedals.

Q: What can the Riverbend crowd expect at your show?

Rebecca: We just got back from Australia and New Zealand. We've been honing our festival set on the road. We will have a band at Riverbend and do stuff from across our catalogue.

National Park Service program on Larkin Poe’s namesake

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park staff will present a one-hour program on Saturday, May 25, at 2 p.m. about Larkin Poe, a local farmer turned Confederate soldier and his experiences during and following the Battle of Chickamauga. Larkin Poe, a cousin of Edgar Allan Poe, is the great-great-great-great-grandfather of Rebecca and Megan Lovell, whose musical act is named for him.Participants should meet inside Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, 3370 LaFayette Road, for a brief overview before caravaning to the program location near tour stop 3.Prior to the Civil War, Poe married into one of the families residing along LaFayette Road in what is now Chickamauga Battlefield. As the war entered its second year, Poe enlisted in a local cavalry company.While Poe was with his unit and absent from home, his farm suffered to the point of destruction. Distraught, he rode to the battlefield where he recalled the “piled-up dead, the trampled and bloodstained ground, the torn and splintered timber, bore mute testimony to the terrible struggle that had taken place there.”What happened to his family? Could his farm be rebuilt? What he did next could have branded him disloyal for the remainder of his life.Join park staff for “Mute Testimony to the Terrible Struggle,” as it explores the story of Larkin Poe and the difficult decisions he faced during the war.For more information: 706-866-9241.

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