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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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Showing posts with label Compass Records. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Compass Records. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mike Farris - "Silver & Stone"

Coming off of an incredible GRAMMY win for 2015’s SHINE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE (Best Roots Gospel album), Nashville rocker Mike Farris keeps it earthy and personal on SILVER & STONE, out September 7 on Compass Records. The title refers to his wife's ring, and the album is a celebration of their 23 years of marriage and her steadfastness in sticking by him through his years struggling with addiction and alcoholism. Now sober for 7 years, Farris has the energy and conviction of a man saved, a stack of anecdotes and life experiences that would make most people’s heads spin, and a soulful vocal delivery reminiscent of Sam Cooke or Otis ReddingSILVER & STONE isn’t a “gospel” album by any means, but Farris still takes us to church on these 12 engaging tracks, including a cover of Bill Withers’ “Hope She’ll be Happier.” 

Produced at Compass Sound Studio (AKA “Hillbilly Central” – the birthplace of Outlaw Country) in Nashville by Compass Records co-founder, Garry WestSILVER & STONE finds Farris imbuing his songs with a vibey, lighthearted feel, returning to his roots as a rocker and soul singer. The album weaves through the traditions of American music the way that Tennessee born and bred Farris has done expertly throughout his 25-year career, starting with his major label band, Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies.

Sonically, SILVER & STONE’s warm organic sound and stellar playing recalls the cream of the Stax Records’ catalog. The album opener and Farris original, "Tennessee Girl,” seguing into “Are You Lonely For Me Baby?” and “Can I Get a Witness,” are loose and groove-driven, hitting all the right notes of soul,  and  blues with an effortlessness that shows what a natural Farris is for this sound. 

The studio band includes famed “Memphis Boy” Gene Chrisman (Dusty Springfield, Elvis Presley, Dan Auerbach) sharing drum duties with Derrek Phillips (Robben Ford, Hank Williams Jr.), keyboardists Reese Wynans (Joe Bonamassa, Double Trouble) and long-time Farris collaborator Paul Brown (Waterboys, Ann Peebles), guitarists Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt), Rob McNelly (Delbert McClinton) and George Marinelli (Bonnie Raitt) with Steve Mackey (Wallflowers, Delbert McClinton) and producer West splitting bass duties. Farris is quick to credit the crew in the band for putting their modern spin on classic grooves and progressions.  The band was given just enough structure so they could add their own flavor. Among the album's many standout moments is Joe Bonamassa's searing solo on “Movin’ Me” (Bonamassa became a fan and friend while opening for Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies in the 90's).

Melding the spiritual and the earthly, Farris says the album is about “reaching something better without actually trying.” This sentiment drives the Farris-penned composition, “Golden Wings”, written for his son, Christian, at “a pivotal point in his life, with so many options in front of him. That feeling of ‘Where am I supposed to be?’” 

Farris told Rolling Stone Country. "It's one of those songs that just flowed out after I did an exercise where you write a letter to your younger self. It has a dual message— something to say to a young person who is looking for answers, but also a reminder to myself to be free and open to the possibilities of life."

Another Farris composition, “When Mavis Sings,” hits equally close to his heart. Over his years as a performer, he’s had the privilege of becoming close to legendary singer and gospel icon Mavis Staples.  He says, “Mavis is everything you want your heroes to be.” Julie Farris elaborates, “She calls him ‘Mikey’.”  The song is actually a history lesson on Mavis' life, as it's completely comprised of literal tidbits of her life.  

“I wanted to explore that upbringing, being in that neighborhood with all of these luminaries and absorbing that music,” he says. “It was exciting to watch all the pieces come together and fit lyrically.”

The album closes with “I’ll Come Running Back To You,” an acknowledgment of the surrender intrinsic in love by accepting the kind of love that conquers shame and self-doubt.  Where the narrator of this song is losing his identity in service of unrequited love, for Farris, it’s quite the opposite—it’s relinquishing a vision of identity that needs to be served by attention or self-medication and instead takes root and grows through love.

“It’s the most essential, yet most difficult, part of faith,” Farris says.  “Remembering to open up and allow the universe to have its way with you and your gifts. Be open and free to the possibilities of life.”

"With a supersized voice filled with the electricity of Saturday night and the godly grace of Sunday mornings ." — Rolling Stone Country

“Mike Farris has enough heart, soul, and power to light up a city. He mixes up the elements and turns them into something new, beautiful, and uniquely his own.” — Buddy Miller

 "Country and gospel music is in dire need of some pure heartfelt soul right now.  He's like a secret weapon — he's loaded with soul."  — Marty Stuart (Rolling Stone Country) 


July 10 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge

July 13 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall 

July 14 – Navarro, CA – Redwood Ramble

July 15 – Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s

Aug 18 – Saugerties, NY – Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex

Aug 23 – Chattanooga, TN – Songbirds

Aug 24 – Lexington, KY – Willie’s Locally Known

Aug 25 – Knoxville, TN – Open Chord Music

Aug 26 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theatre

Aug 27 – Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall

Aug 28 – Charleston, SC – Queen Street Playhouse

Sep 6 – Buford, GA – Buford Community Center

Sep 8 – Franklin, TN – Franklin Theatre

Sept 14 – Nashville, TN - AMERICANAFEST

Sep 17 + 18 – Penticton, BC – The Dream Café

Sep 20 – Salt Spring Island, BC – PitchFork Social

Sep 21 – Seattle, WA – The Triple Door

Sep 22 – Victoria, BC – University Centre Farquhar Auditorium

Sep 28 – Franklin, NC – Franklin Town Square Gazebo

Oct 5 - Madrid, Spain - Changó LIVE

Oct 6 - A Coruna, Spain - Sala Inn Club

Oct 7 - Gijón, Spain - Teatro de la Laboral

Oct 12 - Calella, Spain - Fàbrica Llobet

Nov 03 – Moab, UT – Moab City Baseball Field

Nov 29 – Stoughton, WI – Stoughton Opera House    

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Compass Records artist: Shannon McNally - Black Irish - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Black Irish, by Shannon McNally and it's quite good. Opening with You Made Me Feel For You, McNally on lead vocal delivers the blues with a country flair backed by Jerry Roe on drums, Michael Rhodes on bass, Micah Hulscher on keys and Audley Freed and Colin Linden on guitars. A solid opener. Stevie Wonder's I Ain't Gonna Stand For It with a country twist is nicely enhanced by closely matched backing vocals  featuring Wendy Moten and Rodney Crowell and the steel guitr riffs of Jim Hoke. Original track, I Went To The Well, is rooted in the blues with a note of Elmore James and reinforced by Lex Price on bass. Another self penned track, Roll Away The Stone has a rock feel and wailing sax by Jim Hoke. J.J. Cale's Low Rider has a soothing touch, enhanced nicely by McNally's smokey voice.  Chapman/Crowell ballad, Isn't That Love, is really a nice track and McNally delivers the goods. On Muddy Waters' Stuff You Gotta Watch, McNally throws a curve giving it country swing. A cool harp solo by Hoke works nicely with interwoven instrumental by Freed, Linden and Hulscher. My favorite track on the release is Robbie Robertson's It Makes No Difference. It's not only an excellent composition but an excellent choice for McNally's voice, complimented by backing vocalists Tanya Hancheroff and Kim Keys. Wrapping the release with Pop Staples track, Let's Go Home, McNally maintains a spiritual feel but adds country spunk. Very nice closer for a cool release. 

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Compass Records artist: Mike Farris - Shine For All The People - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Shine For All The People, from Mike Farris and it's nothing short of spectacular. This release is classified as Roots Gospel but I've got to tell you, it's simply great music. Opening with a powerful horn section Farris takes immediate control on River Jordan. Farris has one of those incredible voices that pushes the envelope and with the soul and power inside of him, he just belts it out. This track has an super R&B feel with warm vocal backing and incredible horn work bringing all of the heat you could possibly want. WOW! Up next is Jonah & The Whale with a solid Mustang Sally kind of strut. A groovy organ part keeps up the middle and with a hot bassed bottom and load of sax, Farris just cruises the melody in voice. Very cool! Sparrow opens with Farris sounding like he's standing in front of a congregation, delivering the word with spiritual like key work. Sliding into a dixie blues infused strut with piano, horns and rat a tat drums, this track has a great feel. Warm backing vocals and dixieland styling with that overlaid horn styling makes this track hard to ignore. Excellent! Mercy Now is a solid R&B /soul style featuring Farris in more of a mellow Al Green stance. A solid radio player with powerful backing vocals and instrumentation. Real Fine Day is a country style 2 stepper with twanging guitar and Farris riding the wave. With the power and carefree feel of This Note's For You, Farris just lays it out there. Very nice! The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow has a really nice groove and Leon Russell/spiritual style piano playing doubled up with Billy Preston like riffs. Farris, teamed with the incredible backing vocalists makes this one terrific track. Solid horn overtones and spiritual style singing carries this track high. Farris shows over and again his ability and sense of timing to bring it. Power Of Love is a great high stepper with Farris and crew really standing on it. Is there a spiritual message in there. I'm sure there is, but if you're alive, you can hardly missed being moved by this music just based upon it's presence. Farris keeps taking it up a notch and it really seems he's there and up it goes again! Soul ballad, Something Keeps Telling Me is a straight up radio track with a catchy melody, spot on backing vocals and well blended instrumentation. How It Feels To Be Free has the strongest relationship to a traditional contemporary spiritual track with solid vocal lead, and organ accompaniment. Farris' flawless delivery and backing vocals punctuation just floats. Wrapping the release is This Little Light, a track that most everyone has heard a million times as a child. Farris takes it on as if it has never been heard and with this girth and with occasional children vocal backing, maybe it never has been. Heavy piano soloing on the track is stellar and bluesy guitar riffs give it a rocky feel. I don't remember anyone since the early days of Leon Russell and the Shelter People who was in the broad national spotlight giving spiritual music this kind of attention and feel. Mike Farris sets himself head and shoulders above his peers with this excellent performance! This is a must hear release and a must see artist!

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”