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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Bman's Exclusive Interview: Mike Farris

Bman: Hi Mike. I appreciate you taking time out from your busy schedule to talk with me. I am totally at awe with what comes out of you!

Mike: Thank you, Bman!

Bman: I had to do a bit of catchup because outside of the "mainstream blues" my exposure to new music of the 90's was limited to the Pixies, Fiona Apple, Hope Sandoval, D'Angelo, Badu and Macy Gray. I mean I was thrilled with the return of my hero, Jeff Beck, but I mean new stuff. How would you describe the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies?

Mike: SCW started out as a rootsie rock band with a very spiritual leanings even then. I think, over time, we became victims of radio trends. I personally decided that radio was moving further and further away from what I really wanted to do, so I decided to move on.

Bman: I listened to a number of the recordings on Youtube and they seem pedestrian compared to your current work. Solid but not outstanding (to me). Were you working on solo stuff at the time? I have a track here of them playing here with Joe Bonamassa:

Mike: I had songs all along that I felt didn't fit what that band was about, yes. SCW was the only band I had ever been in, and so I really wanted to move on and experiment with other sounds, other musicians and do things that SCW really wasn't built to do. After the breakup, it took some time to hone in on what sounds really suited me and also to figure out that spiritual music was the thing that really moved me.

Bman: There is a distinct difference with what I have seen as you formed Peaceful Knievel. Tell me about that band. Was it ever formally recorded? I found this cool video on Youtube:

Mike: PK was a great great band. We never recorded, although we talked about taking it seriously, but it never happened. That band was crucial in my development as a musician and singer because I was stepping into a world of music that I had never been in. It was definitely school for me. Looking back, I realize that was the time I began to really find my voice and learn how to sing.

Bman: So then you formed Roseland Rhythm Revue. Is this a morphing of the previous band or all new players?

Mike: I began recording Salvation In Lights with the idea of starting completely anew, even though Audley Freed, who played guitar in Peaceful Knievel, was in town as well as various other outstanding musician friends. So I went into it with complete strangers, albeit amazingly talented strangers! People like Eric Holt, Joe McMahan, Jim Hoke and Dave Roe. It developed into the best record I have ever been a part of.

Bman: That's the lineup that I've seen and then with the addition of the McCrary Sisters. That is an amazing lineup. How did that come about?

Mike: I love music and I love the art of making music and so it's difficult for me to have a set group of people to play with when, in fact, there are so many great players and singers out there, so the lineup has changed and evolved over the past few years. That said, I feel like the lineup we have now is a really special group of people whom I love to spend time with as well as play music with. The McCrary Sisters weren't a group when we began to work together. Ann and Regina were doing some studio work and playing some live shows with people like Buddy Miller. When we started work on Salvation In Lights Regina was actually working at a theater in Myrtle Beach and couldn't make the recordings, so I met her later on. I liked the idea of having sisters singing together so I went with that lineup of singers, then later, sister Alfreda would join us for local shows mainly.

Bman: Seems like a marriage made in Heaven! I'm embarrassed to say I wasn't aware of your work until last year. I came across and wrote about your recording of "A Change Is Gonna Come". One of my readers, a knowledgeable and avid blues aficionado as well as a radio DJ said in response to my writing: "Wow! You got me again Bman, This song for vocalists is like Hideaway for guitar players. Should not be attempted unless you can nail it. Mike Farris nailed it and then some. Even the McCrary Sisters seem to be in awe of him. Thanks for another great turn on!" You definitely got some attention with those recordings!

Mike: We all felt like there was a real breakthrough with S.I.L. Even when we were recording it, I felt like, for the first time in my career, I had found my place and I find a lot of encouragement in all the accolades it received.

Bman: You definitely have it going! So what have you got in the works? I read on the internet that you had a new release in the works for late 2011.

Mike: Yes, we are working on it still, obviously behind schedule.

Bman: If you can talk about it, tell me about the lineup and when the release will be available.

Mike: The players for the first phase of recording consisted of Kenny Vaughan (guitar), Kevin McKendree (keys), Dave Roe (bass), Derrek Phillips (drums), Quintin Ware (trumpet), Chris West(sax) and the girls. The second phase players are Derrek, Bart Walker (guitar), Reese Wynans(keys), Michael Rhodes (bass), Jim Hoke (sax), various singers, and other various outstanding players. We are hoping to get the record out as soon as possible obviously, but I won't release anything until I feel it's the right songs.

Bman: I think that you have a good handle on that. Will there be a dramatic change for listeners from previous releases? Do you have the McCrary Sisters back?

Mike: The sound visions are always evolving so it won't be S.I.L. vol.2. The girls will definitely be a part of the record, but I'm sure there will be other singers as well. Again, there are simply too many great singers out there that I would love to work with.

Bman: Are you composing new material or mostly interpretation of traditional songs? The previous releases have been spectacular!

Mike: That aspect of the process will stay the same. I've realized that I love interpreting the old songs because of the strength of the material as well as the spiritual depth.

Bman: You definitely take them and make them your own! Do you have anything else that you would like to share with your fans?

Mike: Great blessings to everyone!

Bman: Thanks again Mike. Your tops on my sheet! I really appreciate your time and hope to hear from you again soon!
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