His music brings joy to the world



By Marilyn Delk

You may have heard of Mike Farris. Perhaps you remember him as a hard-living 90s rock-n-roller with a super-sized voice who also demonstrated a super-size ability to abuse drugs and alcohol, resulting in many performances memorable for all the wrong reasons. Maybe, like me, you recall his riveting cover of songwriter Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now,” which brought comfort to souls. Or perhaps you know Mike Farris as a roots gospel singer whose Shine for All the People earned a Grammy in 2015. But even if you are not at all aware of the artist who Darke County Center for the Arts will be presenting in concert at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall in Greenville on Saturday, April 9, Mike Farris is definitely a joyful must-see for everyone who loves music.

Mike Farris channels a sound filled with emotion that moves people all over the world; his larger-than-life vocals, delivered with astonishing power and range, are described as “straight out of the South, sharpened in the clubs of New York, and honed over a lifetime of collaboration with the likes of Double Trouble and Patty Griffin.” In his performances, he is said to produce not only funky danceable blues-rock music, but also a deeper insight into his own hard-earned understanding of the complexities of the human condition.

Before founding the successful group Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies in 1990, the powerful singer had already formed a powerful drug and alcohol habit that almost killed him; but after becoming a practicing Christian who rejected drugs and alcohol, Farris now performs his blues/gospel/soul music with the energy and conviction of a man saved from a sad fate. His most recent album, Silver and Stone, was written for his wife Julie and her vital contribution to turning his life around; the title refers to Julie’s wedding ring, as well as her steadfastness in sticking by him through 23 years of marriage.

In talking about the album in an interview in Blues Magazine, the artist explains that old spiritual music resonates with him: “It goes far beyond those of a simply Christian faith. These are stories of personal struggle, of hope and longing for a better day. It’s beyond religion to me; it’s more of an essential thing.” He also states that he is drawn to roots music that began in the early 1920’s, finding rich drama in what he calls “soul music from the Deep South” that inspires him to pick up his guitar and work on new songs.

Somewhat ironically, after 15 years in the music business, Farris won the Americana Music Association’s Award for New and Emerging Artist of the Year in 2008. His response to the honor was that if would probably have been more appropriate to give him an award for the “latest artist to get his act together.” So, the performer once known as a hard-living rocker is now bringing joy to the world while following a higher calling to produce rousing, spiritual music; he has finally found his voice — and what a voice it is!

Mike Farris will perform with his band The Fortunate Few at 8 p.m.; tickets for the concert cost $25 for adults; student tickets are half price. To purchase yours, contact DCCA on-line at www.DarkeCountyArts.org, or by calling 937-547-0908. Tickets will also be available at the door the night of the show. Arrive at Memorial Hall early, and take in the talents of Darke County students on display in the Anna Bier Gallery’s annual High School Show; the Gallery opens at 7.

Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

No posts to display