Tour Diary: Larkin Poe Goes On The Road With Elvis Costello

Rebecca (left) and Megan Lovell of Larkin Poe performing with Elvis Costello on tour. Photos courtesy Larkin Poe

This is Part One of a multi-part series.

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Santa Rosa, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles … Winding up and down the golden state of California, we’ve been on tour with Elvis Costello for eight days now. Detour, USA. 6 shows down, 9 shows to go. My sister and I have been trailing the convoy of buses and trucks in a humble sedan (an “economy level” vehicle, as stated in our Alamo rental agreement). Thankfully, we’re finally old enough to rent a vehicle of our own accord. There is freedom to be found on the endless miles of freeway, but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to dreading the upcoming 12 and 14 hour drives yet to be made, looming darkly on the horizon of next week’s travel itinerary. As sisters, we love each other greatly, but we will have to treat one another carefully to ensure that we both get off this tour alive. If one sister turns up dead at a truck stop in Colorado or Wyoming … we will have failed.

And how did we come to be here in this sedan, on this tour, supporting Elvis Costello? Two sisters from Atlanta, one living legend from Liverpool … The connection is not immediately obvious, but come watch a show and you’ll understand. When we raise our voices together, eras and home countries fall away, and there is only music to be made.

My sister and I first met Elvis Costello in 2007 at MerleFest, a wonderful Americana festival in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. E.C. was headlining the festival; our band was booked to perform on the “Cabin Stage.” During a fortuitous Friday night “All-Star Jam” on the main stage of the festival, our 16 and 17-year-old selves wound up onstage to sing harmonies behind a distinguished gentleman in a full suit, dark sunglasses, and dapper hat. The song was “Angel Band,” a traditional gospel. The gentleman was Elvis Costello. E.C. shook our hands after the song and an immediate friendship was struck.

In the years since that first fateful meeting, we three have become a misfit “angel band” of our own. We have sung countless songs together in countless countries. We have sung for the times and sung for the sake of singing. We have paid homage to the greats of music, alive and dead, and been repaid tenfold by the unsurpassed joy of singing a well-written song for the listening ears of a rapt audience. Over the years, E.C. has kept us beneath his wing and quietly asked us big questions. “Have you listened to Jerry Lee Lewis?” “Have you noted the beauty of these Hank Williams lyrics?” “Did you watch this performance by Bob Dylan?” It is a musical conversation that has spanned from our teens into our mid-twenties. As young songwriters, it is not a conversation that we take lightly. To sing “Scarlet Tide” with the man who wrote those well-deep lyrics is an eye-and-soul-opening experience. And tonight, in Riverside, we get to speak with him again … using the language of note choice and vocal inflection. Hopefully the people seated in the chairs facing the stage will get as much out of the performance as we will.

— REBECCA LOVELL, guitarist


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