Grammy Award winner to close out 2019 Levitt Music Series

Published 3:09 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Grammy award winner Mike Farris & the Fortunate Few will be closing out the 2019 Levitt AMP Middlesboro Music Series this Thursday night.

The community is encouraged to come out and take place in the final concert of the year with the tradition of the community picnic that includes free hot dogs and hamburgers with drinks half-off. The picnic is sponsored by Smithfield and Food City.

Mike Farris has an extraordinary soulful voice with range, talent and emotion that comes from being raised in the south surrounded by several genres of music.

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“I was raised in the south. So being raised in the south, you get brought up on soul music, country music, rock, soul, R&B, and blue, everything,” Farris explained. “That is always a challenge for me to take all of my musical loves and make it something cohesive that makes sense, and I also look back on records like the Rolling Stones ‘Exile on Main Street’ and they went from almost a punk rock kind of feel to country on some stuff. It’s like I’ve just reached the point where I’m just going to do whatever I want do on the records and let the world just figure out how they want to define it. That’s not my job. My job is to create.”

Coming off of an incredible Grammy win for his 2015 album “Shine for all the People,” which won Best Roots Gospel Album, Farris said that it was a life-changer.

“It’s funny because I didn’t expect it but at the same time that was the watermark,” he said. “That was the aim of making ‘Shine for all the People’ and for some reason that was in my mind and I was actually telling the team around me, ‘Look, I’m a control freak and I’m also obsessive compulsive’ and these guys are like, ‘I think it’s good’ and I said ‘Look this has to be Grammy worthy, it’s got to be good enough for a Grammy.’ I think I was just saying that and I didn’t have any thoughts behind it and lo and behold we got nominated and we went to L.A. and won, which was crazy!”

Prior to his Levitt invitation he had never heard of Middlesboro but is excited for his trip here.

“I don’t do drugs anymore. I don’t drink anymore. I don’t smoke. Food is always a big thing for me because food makes people happy,” Farris explained. “I cook a lot at home and food is another way of entertaining because it puts smiles on people’s faces. There’s nothing I love more than going places and discovering new foods. There’s nothing I love more than that great southern cooking from my heartland, my homeland. So, when I come to Middlesboro and any place down south I’m looking for the greatest southern cooking that I can find.”

He said beyond finding the greatest southern cooking is for everyone to leave the show feeling better than before they came.

“I’m honored to get to serve everybody in Middlesboro through our music,” he said. “It’s a real honor for us and we don’t take it lightly, and we are going to have a great time. It’s going to be awesome.”

Mike Farris and the Fortunate Few will take the Levitt Stage at 7:30 p.m.

Opening the final Levitt Music Show is The Jonny Monster Band at 6:30 p.m.

According to the weekly Middlesboro Main Street Levitt Newsletter, originally from the Hudson Valley but now based in Knoxville, Tenn., the IBC semifinalists are a band that shouldn’t be missed. Jonny Monster’s original mix of acoustic blues and hard dynamic electric guitar is like a runaway locomotive that steams into any venue.

With East Tennessee’s own Andy Lewis on bass and Kevin Redding on drums, Jonny Monster’s high energy and aggressive guitar style continues to captivate audiences up and down the east coast and is a must see act.