Kirk Farmer performing with Dirty Rumors in 2013
|Born||February 14, 1973|
|Origin||Richmond, Virginia, US|
|Genres||Rock, Indie, Roots rock, Blues|
|Years active||1986 - present|
|Labels||Hot Trigger Productions
For The Ride Records
|Associated acts||The Kind
The Guitar Brothers
The Last Minute Band
Playing With Strangers
Richard “Kirk” Farmer (born February 14, 1973) is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist from Richmond, Virginia. He is best known for his gritty, blues style vocals and roots rock song writing.
Kirk Farmer was born in Richmond, Virginia on Valentine’s Day in 1973. He is the only son of jazz musician, Calvin Farmer, and Joanne Farmer. Very early on in his childhood, Farmer was exposed to a wide variety of music ranging from Kenny Rogers to The Beatles to John Coltrane. At the age of seven, Farmer’s father attempted to teach his son saxophone and music theory. With no apparent interest in music, the lessons were quickly halted.
Growing up in the Richmond suburb of Bon Air, just south of the city, Farmer attended public schools in Chesterfield County where he was an exceptional student until middle school when he began to use marijuana and LSD. His grades and attendance greatly suffered until he dropped out of Midlothian High School at the age of 15 following an arrest and a fourteen day juvenile detention sentence. Following his release, and in spite of the terms his probation, Farmer spent the next two years drifting from one temporary residence to another while frequently traveling up and down the east coast to attend Grateful Dead concerts.
At 16, and with no musical training, Farmer joined his first band as their lead singer. The band was called “The Kind” and they specialized in performing bluesy, rocked up versions the music of The Grateful Dead. Farmer had long idolized Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir for their guitar playing and songwriting styles, but still felt the need to perform their music in his own style. As a gift from his girlfriend on his seventeenth birthday, he received his first guitar and began to teach himself to play by memorizing the fingering charts of a Grateful Dead Anthology music book. He also took guitar playing tips from, and wrote his first songs with recording artist Lee Graham (Jazz Poets Society, Sony Records), who was at that time the 16 year old guitar player for The Kind.
By the age of 20, Farmer was drug free and performing with some of the most well respected musicians in the Richmond area as well as a number of nationally know recording artist. Many of them were seasoned blues and southern rock musicians twenty to thirty years his senior. Farmer saw several of these musicians as mentors and derives much of his writing and performance style from their influence.
It was also during this time period that Farmer began apprenticing in the sound production and studio recording industry. He maintained a day job as a door to door salesman, but music production and stage performance had become the main focuses of his time and efforts. He made a name for himself both as a solo artist and as the front man for the Richmond based regional act, Outcry. He later performed as the lead guitarist and co-front man of the band, The Guitar Brothers.
At the age of 25, Farmer enrolled himself at ECPI College of Technology in Richmond, Virginia where he received a degree in Computer Electronics Technology. Armed with his new degree and his knowledge of digital media production, he began to market himself as booth a musician and a professional Sound Technician.
The Guitar Brothers
In 1997, Farmer was approached by drummer / guitarist, Jay Turner about forming an acoustic folk rock band called The Guitar Brothers. Farmer and Turner had shared the stage before in other musical incarnations and were familiar with each other's styles and repertoire. After their first rehearsal, they also became aware of how well their voices blended together. Concentrating heavily on vocal harmonies, they quickly put a show together and began booking themselves in local bars and restaurants.
The Guitar Brothers released their first studio album entitled Memories Worthy Of A Song on the indie label, For The Ride Records in the early Spring of 2001. The CD received excellent reviews but lagged in retail sales. However, following a feature article in Richmond’s Style Weekly Magazine, the now four piece band’s popularity grew.
By the summer of 2001, what started as a two piece folk band had evolved into a five piece rock band that was performing three to four nights a week throughout the region. With Farmer on the lead guitar, and sharing the lead vocal position with Turner, the band began to book opening shows for national headliners and performed at fund raisers for organizations such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital and The National MS Society. As well, numerous television appearances and event performances made Farmer, and The Guitar Brothers, some of the most recognizable musicians in central Virginia.
Despite the band’s new found recognition, Farmer moved from his home town of Richmond to Roanoke, Virginia late in 2001. After nearly six months of the three hour commute between Richmond and Roanoke for weekly shows, Farmer called it quits and left The Guitar Brothers in 2002
In 2003, at the age of 30, Farmer got his first taste of success, and failure, as a solo artist. After relocating to the city of Roanoke in the Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia, he opened Star City Recording Studios and quickly became a major player in the local music scene. The following spring, Farmer was asked to perform for a taping of the regional PBS television program, Blue Ridge Open Mic. It was during this broadcast that he first performed one of his newly recorded songs, “It’s Over Now”. The song was an instant success and was soon being played on various radio stations around the country. He planned a national tour in order promote the song and support sales of the CD entitled “The Long Road”. However, with no record contract and no financial support for his tour, he was forced to return to Roanoke before he could finish his bookings. Frustrated and broke, Farmer relocated back to Richmond in 2004 where it would be nearly a year before he performed on stage again.
Back To Richmond
In 2005, after returning to his home town of Richmond, Farmer and Anthony “Wop” Mercadonte formed the ill fated band, Government Cheese. The band showcased the lead vocal and harmony talents of both Farmer and Mercadonte, and was well known for their parody versions of popular rock and country songs. However, at the peak of their popularity, Farmer left the band because of personal differences with his band mates. In 2007, after leaving Government Cheese, Farmer reconnecting with long time friend and fellow guitarist, Jay Ostrom. The pair founded the group, The Last Minute Band, a quasi acoustic, quasi jam band known for their dynamic and musically dramatic live performances.
In 2008, Farmer relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife and took a position as a sound technician and post production sound and video editor for a local DJ and video company. He also founded an internet based CD mastering company called K14-Studios. There, he started a band called "Playing With Strangers" with local recording studio owner, Jordan Sproles. Playing with Strangers quickly became one of the most popular acts in the triangle area. Despite the band's success, Farmer eventually moved on. First to Atlanta, Georgia for a brief time, then back to the mountains of southwest Virginia where he currently resides.
Back to Roanoke
2011 saw the return of Farmer and his family to Roanoke, VA. He remains active in the local music scene with his group, "Dirty Rumors", and still works with national as well as regional artist as an audio engineer. Farmer continues to write music and perform on a regular basis.
- Style Weekly Magazine, April 2001
- Richmond Music Journal, June 1996
- Interview with Kirk Farmer, September 2009