The Center for the Arts presents
with Justin Farren, solo and Handmade Moments opening
Friday, October 7, 2016, 8:00pm
$17 Members, $20 General Public
(Ticket price includes $2 facility fee. Does not include applicable fee for online purchases.)
“Mitchell may very well be Alaska’s strongest, most stylistically defined, accomplished singer/songwriter. She also jams like a badass with a full band. She’s opened for enormous acts, like KD Lang, and played on countless stages.” – Anchorage Press, May 04, 2016
“There is so much mutual respect and all around good feels passing between them, and they are so consistently having as much fun as their crowds are—I would be hard-pressed to think of another live show that packs that much good love. Their mix of blues, rock, soul, folk, funk and sometimes a little country isn’t something you’ll hear anywhere else in town.” – Aurora Ford, Anchorage Press, March 24, 2016
The Hope Social Club is a band whose beginnings originated in and around the small town of Girdwood, Alaska, a hippy ski haven just South of Anchorage. Melissa Mitchell and Spiff lived in the same building and although neither remembers the very first time they jammed, the town of Girdwood gave them plenty of opportunity to hear each other play. Quickly, they became more familiar with each others songs and with easygoing style and effortless harmonies it was a natural fit and a not so random partnership. The rest of the band met there over the last 15 years and sitting in on each others sets became the norm. Multi-instrumentalist Aaron Benolkin joined in anytime he wasn’t playing with his other projects, including The Whipsaws, and his smooth pedal steel and electric guitar added another layer of texture to Melissa and Spiff’s songs. Tim Haren, a rockin’ local drummer and creator of Alaska’s own Lefty’s Cajons, along with Tony Restivo, bass player for the iconic Girdwood jam band The Photonz, rounded out the rhythm section. Rik Nielsen, from Valdez, had played and toured with Melissa and just kept adding new instruments to his bag of tricks, including lap steel and Weissenborn, but is most at home ripping his champion electric guitar leads.
In addition to being band mates, the Hope Social Club is comprised of dear friends, which is obvious when you watch them play together. They’ve shared good times and heartache, traveled together, volunteered and worked together, cried on each others shoulders; the bond is tangible and for good reason, they have grown to be one of Alaska’s favorite bands.
The music that this band makes is special; it’s infectious, and it’s hard to describe. It’s almost easier to say what they are not: they are not a rock band; they aren’t a hippy band; they aren’t blues specialists or classic rockers; they won’t play Wagon Wheel, so don’t even ask.
Original songs and harmonies are the cornerstone of HSC and although they are led by two acoustic guitars, the rest of the band adds plenty of oomph so that what started out as folk songs easily evolves into groove laced tunes that gets people on their feet. They’ve played everything from house concerts to the biggest and best venues Alaska has to offer and have gotten their feet wet on the East and West Coasts. Between them, they’ve opened for national acts such as Michael Franti, Wilco, Rayland Baxter, Trampled by Turtles, K.D. Lang, the Indigo Girls, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, just to name a few.
The individual members have all got a long history of composing the soundtrack to many an Alaskan evening. Whether it’s on the stage, or under the stars at a campfire; this band adds solid depth and credibility to the Alaskan music scene and their fiery brand of foot stomping, heart churning tunes, translates anywhere they go. This band delivers. You can see it on the faces of the folks that come to the shows. It’s more than just watching and listening to musicians play. It’s more than just being in the scene. It’s more than you usually get for the common cover charge. It’s special. It’s Alaskan. It’s the Hope Social Club.
Justin Farren is an acclaimed yet unassuming singer-songwriter from Sacramento, CA. where he lives in a house that he literally built with his own two hands, about which he says “it’s like living in a museum of my own mistakes”.
When it comes to his songs, Justin Farren is nothing short of a master craftsman painting lyrical pictures that are firmly rooted in the reality of day-to-day life. His delivery is humorous, thoughtful and engaging. His guitar playing is lively, intricate, and seemingly boundless. The Sacramento News & Review describes him as “The storyteller with an impeccable voice, a guitar and a headfull of funny, tender and engaging observation.”
Justin has toured extensively along the West Coast, through the Southwest and beyond. One highlight of these touring includes a series of shows opening for the nationally acclaimed folk artist David Wilcox in packed theaters throughout California, Oregon and Washington. Justin has also been honored to open for national artists including Bret Dennen, Hot Buttered Rum, Matt Costa, Jackie Greene, and John Vanderslice. A few of Justin’s accolades include: SWRFA Official Showcase Artist (2015), 2nd Place – Planet Bluegrass Folks Fest Competition (2013), Honorable Mention – Planet Bluegrass Telluride Troubadour Competition (2013), Regional Finalist – NewSong Mountain Stage (2012), Song Of The Year – West Coast Songwriter (2012), Best Musician – Sacramento News & Review (2009 / 2010), Best Lyricist – Sacramento Magazine (2010)
What makes the homey Ozark stew of Handmade Moments so very nourishing, so perfectly spiced? Partake and be effortlessly guided through wistful and deep channels of musical flavor, rich with hearty roots and fungi, vegetables home-gardened and watered from the sacred well of American musics: jazz old-time country blues soul hip-hop rock (and it don’t stop). Glistening with insight and whimsy, long-simmering with righteous compassion and beauty, Handmade Moments are a fearless all-weather duo – complementary spirits of musical tightrope and magic – serving up entrée to their secret river of goodness.