If you’re lucky enough to be in Nashville on the third
Sunday of the month, you can witness Mike Farris turn the Station Inn-a famous
Music City bluegrass dive-into a church revival tent. The former Screamin’
Cheetah Wheelies front man takes up residency once a month with his Sunday
Shout, a high-energy jamboree of rural gospel sing-a-longs pumped up with funky
blues shack jams and Stax-style brass bravado. Some of the best moments of the
ongoing revue are documented on Shout!
Farris’ brawny vocals were always the anchor of the
Wheelies’ Southern boogaloo, but as the ring leader of this soul circus he lets
his pipes unabashedly ascend into the heavens as he belts out big band takes on
old spirituals (“Oh Mary Don’t You Weep”) and more familiar Motown cuts (“I’ll
Take You There”). Not shy about his own salvation in recent years, which
included overcoming a substance abuse problem, Farris has found a way to give
the good word an apt dose of sweaty rock club fervor without sacrificing the
sincerity of his redemption. Backed by the tight horn-driven grooves of his
Roseland Rhythm Revue and echoed by the angelic layered backing vocals of the
McCrary Sisters, the newly saved song and dance man fills the set with
full-congregation clapping and call-and-response testifying as he howls over
swampy keyboard vamps and gritty juke joint guitar runs.
Farris might be trying to keep the devil down, but here he
proves you don’t need a house of worship to deliver joyful noise that’s ready
for saints and sinners alike.
Standout Tracks: “Oh
Mary Don’t You Weep,” “I’ll Take You There” JEDD FERRIS