You go to bed playing bluegrass. And wake up playing the blues.
It feels like lifetime ago that sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell were a hard-core US bluegrass touring act. With sister Jessica, they were the Lovell Sisters, shredding on dobros, violins and mandolins.
When Jessica moved away from the band after six years of touring to attend university, Megan and Rebecca stepped back, and retooled their musical journey.
"We wanted to play roots music but it took a couple of years to figure it out," Rebecca says in a telephone interview with the two sisters from Nashville, where they live.
Reborn as Larkin Poe, a ferocious blues pairing, they dug deep into the blues, playing classics, like John the Revelator and Black Betty, and creating their own sound, with rich harmonies and anthem-like choruses.
Rebecca replaced her banjo with an electric guitar.
Megan replaced her dobro with a lap steel guitar.
Restarting in 2010 as Larkin Poe, they collaborated with others, before finding their own voice with the album Kin in 2014, followed by Reskinned in 2016, Peach in 2017 and Venom & Faith in 2018.
"Getting to make Venom & Faith was a real step forward," Rebecca says. "It was the second record we self produced. I think it's been such an empowering move to make, take responsibility for all of our music. It invested us more deeply. And it was received well."
"It tells what kind of story we want to tell as adults."
That fourth album also reached a growing fan base, reaching No 1 on the Billboard blues album chart in November 2018.
"It's almost 10 years, the journey," Rebecca says. "We definitely didn't start out this way. It required a lot of energy and effort. We were trying something, not quite us. Acoustic pop. Hard rock. Turns out we needed to return to music of our childhood. Americana. Bluegrass. It felt so good. The record was so well received."
The proud southern sisters (born in Tennessee, raised in Georgia) never forget their heritage, which is forged into their musical sound.
"We love wearing it on our sleeves," Rebecca says of their southern roots. "There is no where else in the world quite like the South to us. Not just the music, the idioms of our language. I love it."
In 2020 they will make their second trip to Australia, again playing at Bluesfest at Byron Bay (they played it in 2019) over the long Easter weekend. They've got sideshows in Sydney (April 15 at The Factory) and Melbourne (April 16 at The Corner).
The sisters loved their first Bluesfest in 2019.
"Given how much fun we had, we are really looking forward to coming back," Rebecca says. "We got to go to New Zealand, which was such a treat. The flight sucks, but there is no way around it."
Megan confirms the feeling: "We had heard from everyone it [Bluesfest] is amazing. We had high expectations. It met and exceeded them. It was everything we wanted it to be. The people. The environment. The festival. We knew a lot of people there. It felt like a family reunion."
Something else happened at Byron that sealed the deal.
"I had a slight obsession with custard apple," Rebecca says. "It's a magical fruit. One of the festival drivers was so kind to pick one from his backyard ... the moment I got to taste I was sold."
Over the next few months they will head back into the studio (Bell Tone Recording in Nashville) to make an album due for release in 2020.
"Going in on the back of a lot of solid touring, almost two years, we really know what we want to make," Megan says.
More solid southern blues on the way.