Larkin Poe
Larkin Poe's Rebecca Lovell, left, and Megan Lovell / Photo: Maarten de Boer

Sister Act Larkin Poe Finally Get Some Grammy Love

On a “tricky career path” since officially forming Larkin Poe in 2014, see how sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell became the feel-good story of February.

Blood Harmony
Larkin Poe
Tricki-Woo Records
11 November 2022

Ten years after the release of their debut studio album as Larkin Poe, the sweet sister act of multi-instrumentalists Megan and Rebecca Lovell are singing the blues in formidable fashion. This time, though, they’re pickin’ and grinnin’ as a duo de force, finally being recognized for their contributions by a controversial organization some believe still hands out the musical equivalent of the Academy Awards. 

It took six studio albums for them to do it, but Larkin Poe can take great pride and joy in their work after becoming first-time Grammy Award winners at the 66th annual event that was held on 4 February in Los Angeles. Their November 2022 release Blood Harmony (on Larkin Poe’s own Tricki-Woo label) won Best Contemporary Blues Album against some impressive competition that included Ruthie Foster, Bettye LaVette, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. The record was co-produced by the sisters with Texas native Tyler Bryant, who became Rebecca’s husband in 2019.

Though lately based in Nashville, the Georgia-bred Lovells initially made their mark as a roots-oriented, All-Americana two-of-a-kind, yet they refused to stick to any single formula. This makes them a logical choice to kick off their 2024 tour at the two-day Extra Innings Festival in Tempe, Arizona, this weekend. The eclectic lineup at the baseball-themed festival includes wonder women (Sheryl Crow, Morgan Wade) and masterful showmen (Chris Stapleton, Dave Matthews) alike on Friday and Saturday (1-2 March). 

Another powerhouse performer hitting one of the three stages in Tempe while sharing a common bond with the Lovells is Ingram. The Mississippi Delta bluesman won the Grammy in the same category two years ago, and he was profiled in a PopMatters interview earlier this week. 

Larkin Poe's Megan Lovell
Larkin Poe’s Megan Lovell / Photo: Michael Bialas

Now, in a detailed Q&A via email, Larkin Poe tell their glory story, followed by an Extra, Extra Innings segment to celebrate the festival. Their transformation from a family-friendly, all-acoustic string trio known as the Lovell Sisters was completed a decade ago with the release of Kin. The 2014 introductory album was so full of vim and vigor that it made legions of GoPoes like me root for them.

That year, in the first of a few phone interviews we’ve enjoyed throughout their career, they proclaimed themselves “Georgia peaches” in an article for The Huffington Post. Regarding this double-dare pair of aces demonstrating a broad range of musical tastes from headbanging rock ’n’ roll to beautiful folk ballads, I simply wrote they had “the potential to show as much Heart as the Wilson sisters.” 

Rebecca, the shredding electric guitarist whose powerful voice will capture your heart and soul, was mature enough to know what they were getting into in 2014 when she said, “We do understand that we’ve chosen a very treacherous and tricky career path. Obviously, it’s our greatest passion. And we love it. But it’s hard to make a dime playing music professionally when there are so many amazing acts out there you’re competing against. 

“It’s thrilling, and it’s wonderful, and I really see us doing it for the rest of our lives in some capacity. I think it’s now part of our DNA. We’ve definitely put our eggs into this basket right now, and we’re going for it.” 

Larkin Poe's Rebecca Lovell
Larkin Poe’s Rebecca Lovell / Photo: Michael Bialas

While aware of the challenges facing this Court of Two Sisters who stand up for themselves, Rebecca predicted back then, “We’ll go to our wheelchairs as little old ladies with these amazing experiences, as somebody who’s shared every moment with you.” Megan, the adept lap steel player who’s quieter but still as shrewd as her younger sister, softly but succinctly summed up their relationship, saying, “We’ll always know we’ll be together. And we know we’ll be OK.”

As this Grammy-winning month winds down during this leap of faith year, Larkin Poe’s status is actually A-OK after collecting more memorable moments to cherish besides gold-plated gramophones. The rewarding weekend that wasn’t the same as it ever was started ironically on Groundhog Day (2 February). They teamed up with Melissa Etheridge for a “Blaze of Glory” to honor Jon Bon Jovi as MusiCares’ Person of the Year; then came their salute to Paul Simon with a rendition of his “Paranoia Blues” at the Troubadour on Saturday. Before the awards show Sunday night that wrapped up the festivities, there was the Grammy Premiere Ceremony in the Peacock Theater, where the Lovells performed Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” with artists such as Jordin Sparks, Sheila E., and Pentatonix. 

What can they possibly do for an encore?

Grammy Night With the Lovells 

In their own words, Megan and Rebecca Lovell share the rest of the story about one night to remember in this email Q&A interview with PopMatters

After first getting nominated for a Grammy for 2018’s Venom & Faith in 2020, what were your expectations going back there for Blood Harmony? How confident were you about your chances? 

ML: For both Venom & Faith and Blood Harmony, the Grammy nominations came as a surprise. … Larkin Poe has always existed as a fiercely independent band living on the far-out fringes of the “music industry” as it were, so being embraced by the Recording Academy voters in this way was pretty cool. The moment itself, walking to the stage to accept the award for Best Contemporary Blues Album, was a straight shot of adrenaline.

How superstitious are you about such events, and what kind of good luck charms do you carry or other unusual customs you adopt to avoid bad luck? 

RL: We’re not super-superstitious (say that five times fast), but we do try to ward off the inevitable nerves by not attaching too much significance to any one thing. We like the 5-minute, 5-day, 5-year approach (e.g., “Will it matter in 5 minutes?”, etc.). We’ve been making music as Larkin Poe for almost a decade-and-a-half now and have been through our fair share of ups and downs and crushed hopes and unexpected wins, so we’re always working on just riding the wave. And breathwork is a biggie.

Which musical idols did you meet for the first time, and what was that experience like? Who impressed you the most? 

ML: As part of the Grammy week experience, we were honored to perform alongside Melissa Etheridge at the MusiCares gala in honor of Jon Bon Jovi. First off, knowing that Melissa specifically asked us to back her up was a huge deal, and then, backstage after the performance, Rebecca and I both received compliments from Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen, respectively. … Suffice it to say, we may never fully recover.

Photo: Eric Ryan Anderson

Describe what you were feeling the moment you won the award. 

RL: To be honest, I don’t exactly remember, but I think I was mostly preoccupied with not tripping on our way to the stage to accept the award.

How did you celebrate that night after winning? 

ML: Uncharacteristically, it was raining cats and dogs in Los Angeles the day of the Grammys, so we left the awards ceremony, got drenched in our fancy clothes, got “home” to our Airbnb, got into sweatpants, and ate a literal metric ton of takeout food while watching Beatles music videos.

In your estimation, what made Blood Harmony a Grammy-winning album? What does it mean to you in terms of your career path? 

RL: I think Blood Harmony was easily our most authentic record to date, and by “authentic”, I mean I think we tried hard to “try less hard” to be anything more than just ourselves. There is always a temptation to act up, polish up, tighten up in the studio, and we made a conscious effort just to let it all hang out in simplicity on Blood Harmony. And, lo and behold, she brought home the hardware. So, if that isn’t a lesson learned, I don’t know what is.

As far as a singular moment in your career, what (if anything) comes the closest in terms of ultimate satisfaction?

ML: Our last headline tour across Europe was predominantly sold out in some of the biggest rooms we’ve ever played. That’s special to us; seeing a crowd of folks roll up with their hearts open, ready to create a special night, is easily one of the most fulfilling parts of our job.

Besides another busy touring schedule this year, what’s ahead for Larkin Poe? Feel free to share any upcoming projects/major appearances/future plans.

RL: We’re a touring band, first and foremost, so 2024 is chock-full of cool shows and festivals yet to be played (Extra Innings, looking at you). But in addition, we’re already writing songs for the next record! We’re tapping new veins of emotion and looking forward to sharing it all with folks when the time is right.

Extra, Extra Innings: Larkin Poe Step Up to the Plate

The Larkin Poe sister act of Megan and Rebecca Lovell take turns answering questions about baseball and the Extra Innings Festival that takes place 1-2 March in Tempe, Arizona. 

Is this your first time playing at this event that initially began as the Innings Festival? 

ML: This is our first time, and we’re so excited to see Sheryl Crow.

What can Extra Innings fans expect when you perform on the Right Field stage at 3:35 p.m. on 2 March? If you’re performing with your backing band, please list their names/instruments. 

RL: We’ll be playing with a couple of our favorite musicians: Tarka Layman on bass, and Ben Satterlee on drums. We like to bring the heat, so we’ll be rocking and rolling to the best of our abilities all across that stage.

Have you performed (or desired to perform) the national anthem or “America the Beautiful” at a sporting event? If you have, describe the experience.

ML: We’ve sung the national anthem at quite a few baseball/football games over the years — most memorably at an Atlanta Braves game back in the day wherein the flag was accidentally caught on fire by an errant spark cannon behind us as we sang! Sweet, sweet memories.

Finally, envision this: Using a baseball analogy in terms of your musical skills, you’re up to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and need to hit a grand slam to win over the audience. What song in your repertoire will knock it out of the park (and why)? 

RL: I’d vote for our song “Bad Spell”. We performed it on Jimmy Kimmel last year, and it’s a pretty strong representation of what we love to do: big bluesy guitar riffs, rock ‘n’ roll attitude, and lots of imagery in the lyrics.