JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

March 12, 2016
The Palace Theater
Grapevine, TX USA
Review by Tim Taylor
Photos by Terry Walsh

Mike Farris

Mike Farris Lays His Grace On Grapevine

I feel sorry for people who have never heard Mike Farris sing. For more than two decades, he has recorded exceptional music that has crossed several genres including rock, blues, soul, and gospel, and has somehow remained one of the most humble and genuine artists in the industry. Perhaps the coolest thing about him is that, after winning an Americana Music Award, a Dove Award, and even a Grammy, he makes it seem like the most important thing to him is making his audience feel every word that he sings. Whether he's playing a solo acoustic show or performing with his spectacular band, he never has trouble achieving that feat.

On this particular night, Mike Farris Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Revue brought their "Soul of America" tour to the Palace Theater in Grapevine, and treated us to two sets of classic soul songs from the 60's and 70's that we've known our whole lives, as well as a couple of songs from their incredible Shine For All the People record. The first set consisted of high energy performances of old favorites like Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," Edwin Starr's "Twenty-Five Miles," and the Temptations' "Get Ready," while letting backup singer Cristina Fentress take over lead vocals for a powerhouse version of Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)." Farris laughed and told stories as he pleased the crowd with an extra soulful version of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody," then ended the first set with the Marvin Gaye masterpiece "What's Going On," which still has some of the most poignant lyrics in music history.

As much as the first set fired us up, we had no idea how amazing the second set would be. The music had been fantastic all night, but it was the two songs from Shine For All the People that stole the show. Farris told a story about his mother's sacrifices for her children with his heartfelt performance of "Power of Love," and his 11-minute rendition of Mary Gauthier's "Mercy Now" left tears rolling down every face in the crowd as he led us through a few choruses of the Hollies' "The Air That I Breathe" to end one of the most awe-inspiring performances we've ever experienced. Once he was finished turning us all into emotional wrecks, it was time to end the night on a high. After a spectacular duet with Farris on "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," backup singer Kimmie Mont took over lead vocals on "Proud Mary," which had people dancing in the aisles and singing along to the best of their ability.

It's impossible to play classic soul music without a stellar group of musicians, and the rhythm section of Bruno Jones on bass guitar and Dre' Williams on drums fueled these songs while guitarist James DaSilva and the brilliant Paul Brown on the keys improvised perfectly all night. After tearing through Sam & Dave's "Hold On, I'm Coming" and Otis Redding's version of "Try a Little Tenderness," it was time to call it a night, and this phenomenal group of artists made it one we'll never forget.

Most people go to concerts to hear songs they love and see the spectacle of the performance. When you go see Mike Farris, you feel the music, and that feeling sticks with you for days after it's over. His voice is unique and unmistakable, his joy is infectious, and the music just pours from his soul. Artists like this don't come around very often, so don't miss him if he ever plays a gig near you. He will blow your mind and put a smile on your face, guaranteed.