Last year started off with a bang for Mount Prospect musician Kevin Farris when he joined Team Nick on NBC’s “The Voice.”
And while that experience was a highlight, he says 2021 already seems even brighter. With a new single and accompanying video out Friday as well as an upcoming show at West Dundee’s RocHaus on Friday, May 7, Farris is looking forward to the summer ahead.
“I feel reinvigorated,” he said. “We’ve been just kind of beaten down by this pandemic, but I’m really excited about the fact that people are starting to get vaccinated and you’re seeing shows pop up a bit.”
Farris, who grew up in Arlington Heights and built a career introducing youngsters to music theory, rode out the pandemic giving music lessons over Zoom and teaching private and small-group outdoor sessions around Northbrook and other North Shore communities. He was recently invited back to lead on-site classes at Tamarak Country School in Lincolnshire. That and his upcoming show give him a good feeling that things are starting to creak back to life.
“I definitely think it provides a little bit of relief for everyone that’s in a creative endeavor,” he said. “I’m willing to bet that a lot of people did a lot of soul searching during the heart of the lockdown. As a musician or as a creative or anybody that puts things out there by virtue of what they do, you’re sort of pushed back by fate into wondering what is my place in this world because my identity has kind of been taken away. So I think it provides a real shot in the arm, no pun intended, for all musicians. I’m super excited about it.”
Farris’ new single, “Love You Up,” conjures some of that excited uncertainty about the future, even though he said it was written years ago.
“There’s that trepidation when you’re in the courting stages of a relationship because you’re sort of feeling each other out. There’s a mutual connection, but you’re like, all right, how do we connect? How do we fit together like a puzzle?” he said. “It really came to life reflecting on the years that my wife and I have been together and looking at how interesting it is to see the beginning stages of something and all that excitement.”
The song still applies to his life. With his musical outlet starting to come back and the recent birth of his son, Farris is channeling the relatable state of cautious optimism through “Love You Up.”
“This is certainly based on a girl, but you can be like that when starting a new job, starting getting back out to playing shows,” he said. “There’s always that beginning, the butterflies kind of stage.”
Farris paired his upbeat, up-tempo Friday release with a video as well as an upcoming lyric video, the beginning stages of a five-song EP planned for release later this year.
“I spent just an insane amount of time writing and writing and writing,” he said. “Right now I feel like I’m sort of just at the cliff’s edge of releasing all the stuff that I’ve been wanting to do.”
Next week, Farris takes the stage at RocHaus with Chicago-area singer-songwriter Pino Farina and Amber Fiedler, who appeared on season 18 of “American Idol.” Seating for the show is limited to 50 guests, and reserved-seat tickets are being sold in pairs and small groups to ensure social distancing.
Even though he spent the last year doing livestream appearances, a smattering of small backyard shows and his time on “The Voice,” Farris said he hasn’t been on a real stage playing to a hometown crowd since he was at Cubby Bear in late 2019. He’s excited to interact in person with music fans again.
“My goal is to build a community around what I’m doing, and I think that that’s the only way musicians can really build something — by engaging and really speaking to the people that are engaged in what you’re doing,” he said. “It’s a partnership ultimately between the fans and the artists. … That’s why I feel reinvigorated. I’m just hoping that the progress of our country’s health and our world’s health continues positively.”
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West Dundee’s Got Talent! featuring Amber Fiedler, Kevin Farris and Pino Farina
When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 7
Where: RocHaus, 96 W. Main St., West Dundee
Info: $40 for two stools, $50 for balcony table for two, $80 for table for four, $90 for balcony couch for four; admission increases day of the show; limited seating and social distancing. (224) 699-9320 or rochaus.com