Mike Farris Band
ST JAMES HALL i
3214 West 10th Ave, Kitsilano
Accessible All ages
There's a hallowed hall, deep within the recesses of the heart, where an amazing truth resides: The power in your life can only be experienced when broken open and shared with the people who come into it.
Back in 2005, Mike Farris cracked open the hallway door when, for the first time since the age of 15, he was clean and sober. Recording what would become the critically acclaimed Salvation in Lights (2007), a resurrected Mike eagerly anticipated the future. But with two ruptured discs, back surgery and the death of his beloved manager Rose McGathy all within a few weeks of the record's release, a rolling fog settled in. And with it, denial.
Nevertheless, Mike's career was picking up steam. He won an Americana Music Award for New/Emerging Artist in 2008, followed by a Dove Award in 2010. His live performances at Bonnaroo, SxSW, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and others-were drawing rave reviews. Revered artists like Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, and Marty Stuart were struck by his incomparable voice, and Mike opened shows for Patti LaBelle, Mavis Staples, Blind Boys of Alabama, Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby.
By 2010, having released the award winning SHOUT! Live followed by an EP for Nashville flood relief efforts, Mike launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his next record, an independent release. His fans generously funded the project.
Serious invitations kept coming: first, to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame's 16th Annual American Music Masters concert honoring Aretha Franklin, then TEDx Nashville, and then to the inaugural Austin City Limits Hall of Fame with Double Trouble.
Mike's spirited, soul-gospel fusion had found an enthusiastic audience, but denial has a way of biting back. Compared to his former life, he thought he was fine, but truth be told, Mike had become addicted to pain medication. The new album would have to take a back seat to a gut-check, life-changing recovery. Mike went to rehab and finally began excavating the root causes of his addiction with the help of support groups at AA and NA. An isolator by nature, he struggled laying all his burdens on the table to complete strangers, but gained encouragement through the stories of others. Each honest step led to fertile, hopeful ground.
What eventually emerged from that fertile ground is Shine For All The People, the evolution of true sobriety, of finding a new identity as a servant, first as a man but also as an artist. "I'd been working on the record before my recovery, and then there was a pretty huge delay," explains Mike, who signed with Compass Records. "I had to back up, take time to grab the ground, to re-acclimate, to learn how to live now, truly sober for the first time since I was a kid."
This new normal included getting back to the process of creating new music, but there was a distinctive trajectory shift in Mike. "So many avenues of music flow through me, 100s of years of music, the music that I grew up with-from Blues, Rock, R&B and gospel-there had always been this pressure to try to force it into a box that would sell somehow. It's crazy and overwhelming at times, the weight of trying to meet expectations and make a living, but this time, that all fell away. I know now that this gift only exists to encourage people in their struggles, and if there's any power in it, it's not from me."
Released in September 2014, Shine For All The People pushes beyond Salvation in Lights in that it reveals hope not in any glory to come, but in the failures and suffering of the present. "My music has always been first and foremost for the downtrodden, the wayward...people who've had to go up the rough side of the mountain. Even when it's upbeat and inspiring, there's always been an element of pain, because truth be told, we're all flawed. Not everybody knows it, but we all are."
The songs simply arrived at the appointed time, Mike says. "There was a time when I carried all the songwriting on my shoulders, but then the ego gets in the way of what it should be. These days, I don't have to write everything. I just open the door and these songs show up...songs I need to hear in my struggle, songs I know people need to hear in theirs."
Shine For All the People, the 2015 Grammy Award winner for Best Roots Gospel album, bears witness to the determination of putting one foot in front of the other and to the power of music to get you there. "I've discovered that falling is a divine thing," Mike adds. "It's part and parcel of being human. The important thing is to keep the faith and keep moving on and on. Daring to be courageous enough to share our deepest burdens with each other is the greatest gift we can give."
With Silver and Stone (releasing September 2018), Mike Farris reveals a previously hidden side of his singular instrument. His voice, widely known for its power and range, becomes a vessel for something more subtle but infinitely more rare and challenging to capture—the pure, authentic nature of returning to your roots. Musically, the album delves deep into Farris’ background with a wide range of influences, drawing as much from Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers as from Bon Scott and Steve Marriott. Farris’ larger-than-life vocals, straight out of the South, sharpened in the clubs of New York City, honed over a lifetime of collaboration and stage time with the likes of Patty Griffin, Patti Austin, Double Trouble, and his own Roseland Rhythm Revue, deliver not only the funky danceable blues-rock that draws audiences to his live shows but also a deeper insight into Farris’ hard-earned understanding of the complexities of the human condition.
With this recording, Farris returns to his rock, soul and even country roots, making a break from the roots gospel he has been recognized for. Though there are definite spiritual tones, the new album is more a celebration of the people who most intimately surround him. Silver and Stone shows several different sides to Farris’ prodigious talent. The album was produced by Compass Records co-founder Garry West and supported by a cast of top-flight musicians from across the Americana and soul spectrums including legendary drummer and ‘Memphis Boy’, Gene Chrisman, B3 master Reese Wynans (Double Trouble) and guitarists Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt) and Joe Bonamassa.
Best new voice I’ve heard. Anywhere. Anyplace. Anytime.- Terry David Mulligan.
“Surely, there are few artists whose persona belies their music more than Mike. Out of this diminutive, self-described southern boy comes an extraordinary soulful voice with a range, talent, and emotions that make him seem possessed.” - Terry Stewart, President of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.
“Never have I had so many people pitching me on an artist, and not I’m not talking just his people. Retailers, TV executives, other journalists and a array of music-loving folks have called or e-mailed or shoved a CD in my hand…” - Billboard
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