11 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After accepting Christ, hard rocker Mike Farris’ career went south — all the way to New Orleans, in fact. The former lead singer of the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies drenched himself in the sanctified sounds of Southern black gospel and Memphis soul and came up with Salvation In Lights (2007), an inspired amalgam of classic hymns and sanctified originals. Pouring sweat and radiating newfound faith, Farris throws himself into these songs like a sinner answering an alter call. It takes nerve to tackle iconic tunes like Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Can’t No Grave Hold My Body Down” and Sam Cooke’s “Change Is Gonna Come” — but Farris more than acquits himself with smoldering, drop-to-your-knees performances. From the slinky, Daniel Lanois-like “Devil Don’t Sleep” to the Dixieland horn-inflected “I’m Gonna Get There,” Farris’ self-penned tunes have a sincerity and musical resonance that can’t be faked. Produced by Ferris with Matt Martone, Salvation In Lights veers into Mardi Gras-style celebration on “Sit Down Servant” and serves up guitar-fueled swamp-rock on “Take Me (I’ll Take You There).” Whether he’s wailing to the rafters or savoring a bluesy phrase, Farris convincingly delivers the fervent message of his music.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After accepting Christ, hard rocker Mike Farris’ career went south — all the way to New Orleans, in fact. The former lead singer of the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies drenched himself in the sanctified sounds of Southern black gospel and Memphis soul and came up with Salvation In Lights (2007), an inspired amalgam of classic hymns and sanctified originals. Pouring sweat and radiating newfound faith, Farris throws himself into these songs like a sinner answering an alter call. It takes nerve to tackle iconic tunes like Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Can’t No Grave Hold My Body Down” and Sam Cooke’s “Change Is Gonna Come” — but Farris more than acquits himself with smoldering, drop-to-your-knees performances. From the slinky, Daniel Lanois-like “Devil Don’t Sleep” to the Dixieland horn-inflected “I’m Gonna Get There,” Farris’ self-penned tunes have a sincerity and musical resonance that can’t be faked. Produced by Ferris with Matt Martone, Salvation In Lights veers into Mardi Gras-style celebration on “Sit Down Servant” and serves up guitar-fueled swamp-rock on “Take Me (I’ll Take You There).” Whether he’s wailing to the rafters or savoring a bluesy phrase, Farris convincingly delivers the fervent message of his music.

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About Mike Farris

With a gospel-fueled voice that sounds like a cross between the hard rock blast of Bon Scott and the joyful sweetness of Al Green, Mike Farris has taken a long time to balance his life and considerable talent. Devastated when his parents divorced when he was 11 years old, Farris tumbled early into the world of drugs and alcohol, a lifestyle that landed him in reform school. Nearly dying from an accidental overdose, he moved in with his father and began playing guitar and writing songs, gradually pulling himself out of the depths of his addictions. After forming the seminal 1990s blues jam band the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies, however, the endless touring and bars sent him right back to his old bad habits, and while he put out fine music with SCW, with Peaceful Knievel, and during his stint as the singer for Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughan's old rhythm section, Farris was in deep emotional trouble. Finally, in 2004, while attending the funeral of a friend, he decided he had enough, and embraced both God and sobriety. His two solo albums since, 2002's Goodnight Sun and the subsequent Salvation in Lights, produced in Nashville by Matt Martone and featuring Johnny Cash's longtime bassist Dave Roe, are remarkable musical and spiritual testaments to Farris' commitment to personal redemption. ~ Steve Leggett

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