Sunday, January 28, 2024

Gimme 5 - Mississippi bluesman Robert Connely Farr is our latest musical travel guide

Born in Bolton, Mississippi, and now resident in Vancouver, Robert Connely Farr's ass may be in Canada, but his heart remains in the South.  A champion of the Bentonia blues tradition maintained by famed juke joint owner Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes, Farr is a purveyor of spooky, soul-searching stripped-back blues, typified by his latest album Pandora Sessions, released in October 2023.  So what's the music and who are the people who prick up his ears when he's not hanging around the crossroads at midnight, waiting for the Devil to give him inspiration?  Tell us, Robert!

Gimme 5 songs, old or new, that have been on your radar recently.  [Click on the links to listen to Robert's selections.]


‘02.02.99’ by That Mexican OT:  “I came across That Mexican OT on YouTube, I have an insatiable desire for all things Southern, including Southern Rap. This guy is actually out of

Robert Connely Farr - "Are you looking' at me?"
Pic by Rustin Gudim
Houston and brings a lot of Latin influence to his music & style – which I find really intriguing. The beat and his delivery are incredible, in my opinion.”

‘Dylan Phase Again’ by We Found A Lovebird:  “We Found A Lovebird is a band out of Vancouver and their single 'Dylan Phase Again' really stuck out to me when it was released. I downloaded it right away and been playing it daily – I love it when a song hits like that.”


‘Heritage of Arrogance’ by Adeem The Artist:  “This whole album by Adeem the Artist is a real kick to the gut, in a good way in my book. I believe I originally heard of them through YouTube in one of my many wormholes looking into new artist. I really enjoy the vulnerability and spirit of conviction in this album.”


‘Outlaws’ by Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires:  “Another band out of the South that I’ve immense respect for.  Lee Bains is a prolific and accomplished songwriter with political views that seem very similar to my own.  ‘Outlaws’ is an incredible song that speaks to an important job for those who wish for a better America and South.”


‘Burn In Hell’ by Junior Kimbrough:  “Junior Kimbrough is the man. Hands down. And this live album is a great example of why. ‘Burn In Hell’ is killer, how the song comes in – eerie and abrupt – 7 minutes of juke joint hill country blues y’all. I love the “train going down the tracks and never gonna stop” vibe to this one.”


Gimme 5 artists or bands who have had a big influence on your work.


Jimmy Duck Holmes:  “Hands down changed the trajectory of my music career. His teachings and mentorship brought music home for me.  After a decade of searching for my sound, he showed me it was at home - quite literally in my backyard. "  [Check out the Blues Enthused review of Jimmy's 2020 album Cypress Grove.]


Mac Pontiac:  “A Vancouver songwriter and troubadour who passed away a few years back. His songs and public performances were breathtaking, as tragic as he was. He helped a lot of people in need, myself as well in some of my darkest moments – encouraging me to keep on keeping on.”


RL Boyce:  “His smile and his energy were infectious. He recently passed away, but damn could that man play!  I remember at the 2023 Bentonia Blues Festival he asked me to join his set. I
remember telling him “Ain’t no way I can hang with you RL!!!”  But he pulled me on up to the stage and hollered “I’m gonna show you how”.”


Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes plays host in his Blue Front Café
Neil Young:  “He was really the first songwriter that I remember influencing me, not so much how I played, but how I wanted to write - songs that were critical and asked hard questions.” 


Drive-By Truckers:  “I’ve been seeing ‘em live since ’98 and I’ve been blown away by their work, convictions and live performances since. To this day, one of my favourite bands/songwriters out there.”


Gimme 5 guests you’d love to invite to your ideal long lunch.


My brother:  “He makes the best Angus steaks you’ve ever had. He’s my best friend in this world and one of the best men I know. And I don’t get to see him near enough. Any time I get to spend with him – hell, just thinking about it brings a smile to my face.”


Jimmy Duck Holmes:  “He’s like a grandfather to me. I love his outlook on life. We both grew up on the same stretch of the Big Black River. And some of the best fried catfish I ever ate came out of the kitchen of his juke joint the Blue Front Café.”


Jason Isbell:  “I look up to that fella. His vulnerability and honesty are hard to stomach sometimes – mostly because it’s a reflection of myself. His process and perspective are very encouraging to me.”


Charles M Blow:  “The author of the book The Devil You Know: A Black Manifesto, which is a hard and unflinching look the state of race relations in America. I have a deep respect and

admiration for his work.”


Country singer-songwriter Margo Price:  “I’m a long-time fan of hers. I appreciate her story and what she stands for.  It seems like she’s always fighting the good fight – I like that.”  [Margo Price was a new name to me, so here's a link to her song 'Been To The Mountain'.]

And what would be the first album you'd put on as background music?

"That would have to be Most Things Haven't Worked Out by Junior Kimbrough - a huge inspiration to me and my drummer pal Jay Bundy Johnson over recent years!"


Finally, just one track – pick one of your tracks that you’d share with a new listener to introduce your music.


“I’m going to pick ‘Getting’ Tired of Getting’ Old’.  This song just came out of nowhere one day.  I totally remember sitting on my couch, thinking I needed to do something productive but being tired as shit! I grabbed my 12 string Gibson and the song just fell out of that ol' thing right into my iPhone voice recorder and the rest was history. It’s a blend of the Bentonia Style that Jimmy’s been teaching me and the Hill Country style that the late RL Boyce was encouraging me to implement into my playing.”

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