If you’re a fan of blues, roots rock, or rockabilly, Robert Connely Farr is an artist to watch. From Bolton, Mississipi, he now resides in Vancouver where he teamed up with producer & songwriter Leeroy Stagger. Farr released his album “Dirty South Blues” this past September, including “Just Jive”, a re-energized & re-vamped version of Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ classic song.
We asked Farr a few questions about his move to Canada, his musical influences, and the bands he’s digging right now.
|From the Strait: What made you want to re-vamp Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ 1981 song, “Just Jive”?|
Robert Connely Farr: Our label (Blue Front Records) sent me a collection of recordings that blues enthusiast Michael Hortig recorded of Jimmy in ‘81. They were recorded in Jimmys juke joint, the Blue Front Cafe This particular series of songs had been lost soon after he recorded them and then found 2 years ago – when the label sent them to me. ‘Just Jive’ immediately struck me as catchy- it just stood out from the other songs. I worked up a version and played it for Jimmy, life one night at a show I was playing at the Blue Front and he and the label loved it – I asked them if I could record it for Dirty South Blues and they were stoked.
FTS: What brought you from your hometown of Vancouver, Mississippi to your new home in Vancouver, BC?
RCF: I studied architecture at Auburn University in Alabama and spent a few years doing some non profit work for a design build school called Rural Studio – while there I started songwriting and was collaborating with a musician out of Roberts Creek. After I was finished with the project I was on (Hale County Animal Shelter) I went to visit a friend in Seattle and decided to make a trip to the Sunshine Coast to meet my friend. I literally fell in love with Vancouver the moment I arrived. I went home to Mississippi, worked for a few months, packed my bags and came up here.
FTS: Who were your musical influences growing up versus your musical influences now?
RCF: Growing up – my musical influences were all over the maps. I had a stack of Kiss tapes knee high, I loved anything hard, heavy, metal. Then I fell in love with country and then rap, in particular Southern rap. Probably my biggest influence when I started writing songs was David Berman of the Silver Jews – he made it ok for me to be real and dark with the lyricism.
Now, my influences are definitely more obscure artists. Jimmy “Duck” Holmes has probably been the single biggest influence in my musical career. He brought music back home for me. I had a band (dissolved now) called Mississippi Live & the Dirty Dirty – alt country/ Americana rock… but then Jimmy challenged me – he started teaching me, giving me lessons in his juke joint every time I went home- eventually bringing me there to play shows. It’s the only place I play when I go home. Jimmy told me one day, “you ain’t gonna play it like me, like Skip (James) or like Jack (Owens) – you got to go do this you’re own way – that’s what the blues is”
FTS: What bands are you listening to right now?
RCF: Dexateens, the Bohannons, R.L. Boyce, Purple Mountains. There’s some great labels out of the South right now – my favorites right now are Cornelius Chapel and Easy Eye Sound
Check out Robert Connely Farr’s “Just Jive”, with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, and visit his website for more info.