Grammy Award Winner Comes To Holstein
By Christine Wiese.
It’s always good to be introduced and open to genres of music one doesn’t necessarily experience everyday. It’s likewise good to be surrounded by sounds you love that rock you to the bone. The audience at Mike Farris’ concert in The Clausen Center contained a fine mixture of both sets of ears as well as a few in-betweeners.
The R & B artist has an arresting voice that grabs a person from the first note that issues forth from his throat. He also has a powerful message to impart – Love God and love each other. His admonition sent out via the rhythm and blues hot line went straight to the heart of his listeners. It saturated the hall and nearly blew out the walls. It would presumably have been better received in a larger venue but there was a cadre of fans present that whooped and hollered right along with him. Those young enough (both in age and heart) who like gut-punching music reveled in the opening number “Uptight”. It was, as they say, “way outta sight”!
“We hope we can bring you some joy tonight.”, Farris said as he paced the stage. And they did it in spades. The crowd responded by clapping in time and singing along throughout the performance. It’s not hard to understand why. This is standing on tables music mingling raw emotions with shout and response reverberating up to the ceiling and down to the floor. “Give ’em what they came for and a little bit more!” seemed to be the mantra du jour.
Farris and The Roseland River Rhythm Revue deviated a bit from their set playlist in order to tailor their offerings to the audience at hand. They nailed “My Girl” and “Stand By Me” and, in doing so, gave those in their seats a glimpse into the underbelly of the Rhythm and Blues scene.
One of the night’s high points came from back up singer, Shonka Dokureh. Her interpretation of “The Way I Love You” was beautifully her own but traces of both Bessie Smith and the great Odetta could be discerned as she crawled around the lower notes.
Farris outdid himself with “The Power of Love” and “Mercy Now”. As he said, “The power of music is strong and it’s real.”. These two moving tributes to members of his family proved beyond a shadow of a doubt how he earned the prestigious Grammy.
Other offerings of note were “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, and Kim Mont’s free wheeling “Proud Mary”.
All in all, it was an electrifying performance that might have benefited by a lower decibel level. Lyrics were sometimes lost in the sheer magnitude of good vibrations. That was a shame because Mike Farris is an extremely talented guy and it was a real waste to miss even one word.