Who’s Playing Tonight

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An Interview With Cort Farris
By Mike Sales

Thursday is the night I play in the Village. On my break, I take a walk up the street around the corner to the Local Bean. Jen (owner) always knows I’m in a hurry, and whips up a fantastic coffee drink and sends me on my way with a cookie, back to the corner to spend just a few glorious minutes, standing on the sidewalk, eating my snack, watching the “Fe” band, entertain the crowd at The Hub.

You never know who will join in and play with them, but the core group is comprised of Christian Becker, playing either bass or guitar, Garrett Dawson, also of Kettle of Fish, on percussion and Cort Farris, on steel pan, vocals and fronting the band.

Cort’s responsibility isn’t limited to playing, as he also manages the music schedule for The Hub and The Cottage, but, when you speak

Cort Farris
Cort Farris playing steel pan. (Photo by Corena Dean)

to him, you get the pleasant experience of knowing that enjoying the music is what he’s really all about.

I interviewed him at his Arlington Park bungalow, earlier this month.

WPT: Describe what you play?

Cort: Island style music. I play steel pan…anything from the Beatles, Harry Bellefonte, Bob Marley and jazz/island(y) originals.

WPT: Do you play any originals in your show?

Cort: I do.

WPT: You play with various different combos; do you play solo gigs?

Cort: I do play solo gigs and I have my band “Fe” (pronounced; fee) we do trios and quartets.

WPT: How did you get to Sarasota?

Cort: I moved from New Jersey, right outside of Philadelphia. I brought a band and we moved to Bradenton, because we played all summer, but had to get other jobs in the off season, like giving music lessons or substitute teaching. We had a hard time breaking in, because everyone we approached wanted to know where else we had played…and we hadn’t played anywhere. The band returned to New Jersey, due to lack of gigs, but I stayed and played at SKOB at the open mic, where they offered me a regular gig on Sundays.

WPT: What instrument were you playing when you came down here?

Cort: Steel pan, percussion and drums. I got a gig with Chris Otto and Kettle of Fish and various local groups. I kind of broke into the scene that way, playing drums and got to know all of the musicians.

WPT: How long have you been playing professionally?

Cort: I started out on a drum set, when I was 16 and then eventually picked up the steel pan in 2000, so I’ve been playing for quite a while.

WPT: What’s your best show business memory.

Cort: I wouldn’t say it was a good memory, but we played a gig at the top of the Twin Towers in New York. We were on the helicopter pad. I’m not the biggest fan of heights and the wind was blowing. Those buildings, of course, aren’t there anymore and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

WPT: What are your career goals?

Cort: I would like to just keep on playing live shows. I feel very fortunate that I get to do what I do. Not that I don’t wish to further my career, I want to keep recording and releasing original material.

WPT: Do you currently have cd’s?

Cort: I’m sold out, so I have to order more.

WPT: Good problem to have.

Cort: Yeah, and we’re working on another one. The current one is an instrumental jazz/island music album, but we’re working on a new one with vocals.

WPT: Where are you recording.

Cort: We’re debating right now between recording analogue and master to digital, or just recording everything straight to digital. Analogue is a much warmer sound that can be heard on songs recorded in the 90’s, but there’s always a money issue.

WPT: What’s your message to your audience?

Cort: To have a good time. We’re in paradise. There’s beautiful water, sand and sunsets. I really just want my audience to have a blast. (laughs)

Cort Farris plays every Sunday at:
Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB) from 2-6pm.
5238 Ocean Blvd. Siesta Key FL 34242 (941) 346-5443

He and the “Fe” band can be seen Thursday Nights 6:30-10pm at:

The Hub Baja Grill featuring live music noon-10pm daily, is located at:

5148 Ocean Blvd Siesta Key FL 34242 (941) 349-6800

The Cottage featuring live music nightly is located at:

153 Avenida Messina Siesta Key FL 34242 (941) 312-9300

Mike Sales is a local singer/songwriter. For more info visit mikesalessings.com

Siesta Sand
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