Earlier this month, I was invited to hop on the tour bus with the production crew for a band called Skillet. The weekend included a 15-hour drive to Midland, TX, a six-hour load-in/setup, a three-hour load out, and another 15-hour drive back to Nashville. This is only a portion of what goes into the band’s hour set filled with lights, pyro, cryo, mechanical stage pieces, and a drum riser that lifts 20 feet in the air and spins 360 degrees. It all makes for a pretty awesome concert experience. That’s almost a given when a band invests their money in production, but most bands don’t have the money to afford even a basic lighting rig. Well, how are independent bands supposed to compete with thousands of dollars of production gear? Easy answer. They don’t have to!
This is where Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Revue come into play as a prime example. They pre-headlined before this set filled with monster production. He didn’t have fire, or strobe lights, or a crazy drum riser, but he didn’t need it. The energy, positivity, and musicianship that he brought to the stage with his band was enough to get everyone’s attention. The band members, including Mike Farris, are pros and touring veterans with many years of experience. For example, most touring bands encourage their drummer to play with a click and a lot of bands have backing tracks that make this necessary. Mike’s band and drummer was so tight and so raw that they didn’t have to use either. With horns, organ, electric guitar, bass, drums, and the McCrary Sisters, their music was driving, pure, organic, and fun. Unfortunately, the band doesn’t have any live videos from their recent tour, but check out this video of Mike Farris playing “The Night the Cumberland Came Alive.”
Mike Farris was the founder and lead singer of a blues-rock band from Nashville, TN called Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies, but has continued his career as a solo act since 2001. He won an Americana Music Award for New/Emerging Artist Of The Year in 2008 and a GMA Dove Award for Traditional Gospel Album of the Year for SHOUT! Live in 2010. Today, he tours and makes music as a gospel music artist with his band called the Roseland Rhythm Revue. His music focuses on early American gospel and blues, distinguishable from today’s contemporary gospel artists. The Roseland Rhythm Revue has some of the great touring musicians of today including the McCrary Sisters (Bob Dylan’s backup singers). Mike’s latest project is a six song EP released last year called The Night the Cumberland Came Alive, which was created to support the victims of the Middle Tennessee floods that occurred nearly two years ago.
All facts aside, Mike Farris is a truly incredible live performer. If you ever get a chance to see him play, don’t let the opportunity pass you by!
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC