Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let Us Now Praise Mike Farris and Shine For All The People

I have known Mike Farris for more than 20 years, since he was the lead singer of the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies, a kick‑ass blues rock band that emerged at the tail end of the late 1980s early 1990s Nashville rock scene.  All five members of the band were tremendously talented but it was Mike’s voice that grabbed you on first listen.  I remember spending time with the band early on and being impressed by the fact that they all had a deep knowledge of music.

The Wheelies had some success but never had a breakthrough hit and ended up running out of gas.  After the band broke up, I kept in touch with Mike and helped him with some projects but I didn’t really know what sort of personal demons he was wrestling with.  What I do know is that he overcame his struggles and I was happy to see him re‑emerge in a new Nashville music era where he was recognized by his peers and won awards from the Americana Music Association and the Gospel Music Association.

None of this prepared me for how good his new album is. Shine For All The People is the best example of the uplifting and transformative power of music that I’ve heard since Al Green became a reverend.  This is a big sounding joyful gospel album. Mike has made a bunch of albums and his skills as a producer are evident on this record. Every song on the album is good but the standout track to me is Mike’s re-working of Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now”.  In another time, the music press would be all over this record but in my experience, it’s getting harder and harder to find the good stuff these days.  This album, released today is worth searching out.  I am really proud of Mike’s accomplishment and the work that he and Tyler Pittman did to get this out there. It’s also nice to see the record coming out on Compass.

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