Most weeks, I get an email or see a Facebook post from Eric Ian Farmer about what Farmer has been calling the “More Understanding Journey,” his journey into the collective heart space of humanity and, ultimately, the seat of love.
It’s one thing to read about the journey, but it’s another thing to take him up on his weekly invitations to catch his show somewhere, such as his weekly gig at The Tavern, or at any other number of places at which he frequently performs around Centre County.
Next week, however, looks a little different. Farmer will perform at 8 p.m. Oct. 12 at The State Theater’s attic as part of the Native Sons and Daughters series. And not only is he performing, he’s having Dan Collins’ Earwicker Productions record it to capture content for an upcoming live album.
“Hopefully it captures some of the relationships, some of the chemistry I’ve built with a community of musicians over the past several years,” Farmer said. “I had my first gig in 2011 with Eli (Doc) Byrne, so he’s going to be on the gig also. So, it’s a way to honor some of the relationships that have gotten me to this point.”
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During the Oct. 12 show, the relationships he’s honoring will include long-time collaborators: saxophonist and flutist Byrne, guitarist Eric Burkhart, singer Molly Countermine, conga drummer Andrew Jackson, bassist Simón, accordion player Denise Strayer, percussionist Josh Troup and, humbly, me on mandolin.
The lineup consists of a slew of musicians who play with Farmer and also play in other formats. They’ve each intersected with Farmer at the same time, so there’s a natural cohesiveness that exists before ever getting on the stage. It’s one of Farmer’s best talents. He gets people to play with him who pick up what he’s lying down, and whatever that mystical quality is, it is definitely tangible because it unites the players with each other without fail. Farmer sees it, and brings it together in his shows.
“Most of those situations have developed from people wanting to play,” Farmer said. “On the outside it looks a lot looser than it is on the inside. I’m drawn to players who have great facility on their instrument, a passion for the music; they want to play the music that I’m sharing.”
Farmer’s concept for the live album is not too distant from his concept for live music in general. To attend a Farmer show is to experience music as it is being created, whether it involves covers or Farmer’s originals. That’s the point of a live album — to capture the experience of music as it is being created, with all of the emotion and authenticity that can be replicated, but cannot necessarily truly exist on a studio album.
To fund the album, Farmer created an Indiegogo site, and has reached almost 40 percent of his goal as of early this week.
When interviewing Farmer, we sat down for an hour or so on a Thursday night at The Tavern, and owner Pat Daugherty was there to chime in about Farmer and his presence at The Tavern over the years.
“Hey, the Rolling Stones got their start somewhere,” he said.
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.