Mike Farris & The Fortunate Few

2015 Grammy Award winner for Best Roots Gospel album

Mike Farris & The Fortunate Few


Friday, July 13, 2018

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$22 Advance/ $27 Day of Show (plus fees)

This event is all ages

Mike Farris
Mike Farris
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."

From the opening Cuban/St. Louis blues horns of "River Jordan," originally written and performed by Blind Willie McTell, to the divine salvation of J.B. Lenoir's "Jonah & the Whale," to the determined stance of the Rev. C.J. Johnson's "Something Keeps on Telling Me," a chorus/mantra that Mike fleshed out into a song in the months after rehab…one listen, and it's clear there's something mystical in the waters here.

"When I first heard the Rev. C.J. Johnson's version, I could feel the air in that church get still, no music, only the sound of feet on the floor and hands in the air," Mike says. "I got such strength from it, I knew I wanted to add part of my story. With his words as the chorus, and with Brigitte DeMeyer helping me out, the song serves as a compass for anyone who has lost their way."

Mary Gauthier's soul-stirring "Mercy Now," one of the first songs Mike chose for the record, is clearly foundational to the whole. "The song just mystically appeared before me a few months before my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer," he says. "Not only did it play a major role in just helping me deal with the year that followed, including his death, but brought comfort to my entire family."

Like other choice cuts on Shine For All The People, 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."

Whether rearranging songs of centuries past or infusing new lyrical life to half-songs, it becomes clear that Mike's vocal gift is simply the surface of a very deep well. Full-tilt originals include "Real Fine Day," a poetic account of the birth of Christian Blue Sky Farris that features some killer Kenny Vaughn guitar hooks-"easily one of the top three days of my life, that day," Mike says, and "Power of Love," an unforgettable, high-energy soul groove and already an audience favorite.

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."


2008 Americana Music Association's New / Emerging Artist of the Year Award
2010 GMA Dove Award - Traditional Gospel Album of the Year for SHOUT! Live
2015 GRAMMY Award - Best Roots Gospel Album for Shine For All The People
Lender are a groove oriented rock band, producing songs that will make you want to move a little while listening to the thoughtful lyrics and infectious grooves. The sound is rooted in the rhythm section, which not only holds everything down, but also provides color and shape to the songs, allowing the guitar, saxophone and vocals total freedom of expression. They take advantage of it in a wonderful way.

Lender’s second release, Dad Rock For Moms, makes you feel good, like you have been transported to the beach; but not the clichéd tropical beach, always sunny and warm, and not because life is full of only big waves, bikinis, and cold beer. The beach Lender evokes is more like the northern California beaches near their home: sometimes sunny, often not, but always moody and somehow spiritual. The lyrics make you feel good not because they tell of always getting the girl, or of always knowing what you want and getting it, but because we can be happy in the mysteries and vagaries of life. In Not That Smooth, the band displays its cohesion over an exhilarating groove, while singing about not getting the girl due to losing his nerve, and being not that smooth Take Your Time rolls in like a sudden rain storm on our northern California beach, dark clouds appear from nowhere, obscure the light, but a mesmerizing calm comes with the rain, and then it is gone as suddenly as it appeared. I Don’t Mind envelops the listener with another intoxicating bass line while the other players serve the ethereal feel and message of the song. No Floor is complex and well composed, the guitar a perfect representation of the lyrics after he sings “there’s no floor” the band erupts in a dark descending jam which finally resolves back into bright riff which is the theme of the song.

In total the five songs on Dad Rock For Moms offer a glimpse of the abilities of this band to pair strong grooves and expert musicianship with intelligent lyrics that are not just for Moms.
Venue Information:
Sweetwater Music Hall
19 Corte Madera Ave.
Mill Valley, CA, 94941