As Mississippi’s proud son of the blues, Robert Connely Farr has paid his respects to the genre’s greats while showcasing his right to be honored along with them as a modern force with his newest album, Shake It.
Over the course of nine studio albums, Farr has distinguished himself by his swampy, Delta-blues inspired tone and electric southern rock musical style. When we last caught up with the bluesman back in March, we dove into one of his previous singles, “Going Down South,” which is featured on the album.
Joined by his longtime bandmates Jay Bundy Johnson on drums and Tom Hillifer on bass, the group recorded the album in Vancouver with songs that Farr had written in the wake of his battle against cancer. In his songwriting, he tells stories of swamps filled with spirits and what it takes to survive in a world like his.
Farr opens the album with a rocking cover of Charley Patton’s “Screamin and Hollerin” that features his gravelly voice and Black Keys-esque guitar lead. As a slower intro to the project, Farr intrigues his listener with his natural groove and ability to add his own stamp of greatness on an already badass song.
The first original song we hear on the record is “Ain’t No Other Way,” which showcases Farr’s down-home songwriting and impressive vocal dynamic range. The song involves a bluesy guitar hook and lyrics talking about unavoidable truths. Similar to the rest of the tracks on the project, this tune is a perfect example of how Farr has been able to modernize the classic blues rock style into his own musical footprint.
As the title track for the record, “Shake It,” introduces some country swing to the album and acts as the dance track for the project. The tune’s groove and irresistible rhythm is bound to get anybody shakin’, while the driving electric guitar and booming drums gives the song it’s traditional southern rock-and-roll specialty.
Farr’s cover of Tommy McClennan’s “Sugar Mama” closes out the project and features a powerful bass line and Farr’s smokey vocals as he pleads to his partner to return, as she’s the only one that knows him best. The tune is one last grand display of the talent and soul that Farr and his band powered into this project, the epic guitar solo that breaks through the middle of the song to the intentional meaning behind every bass strum and kick hit.
Farr is from Bolton Mississippi, hometown of musical legends Charley Patton, Sam Chatmon, Bo Carter and Walter Vinson. In Bentonia (just up the road from Bolton) bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes has mentored Farr in a particular form of Delta Blues called the Bentonia Blues. In 2019, Farr took his band down to play Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ Bentonia Blues Festival, which proved to be a seminal experience for the group.
High off the energy of the festival, the group came back to Vancouver to start recording. However, it was then Farr received an unexpected cancer diagnosis and emergency surgery. After recovery from surgery, Farr hit the ground running, rapidly releasing three albums culminating into his fantastic 16-track brainchild, Country Supper.
As he has proven over the past couple of years through trials and triumphs, there is nothing stopping this back-alley bluesman from creating and spreading the music he loves.