Billy Farris

Specialties:  Blues
Days: Wednesdays
Rate:  $18 per 1/2 Hour Lesson

 I hate writing about myself but couldn't talk anybody into doing this for me;

Been playing guitar a long time. Nearest I can figure got started when I was 12 or 13. Started off playing cornet in the school orchestra plus singing in the chorus from 4th through 9th grade but cornet just didn't have the cool factor that guitar did after The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964. Any guitar player in my age bracket will tell you what a game changer that was!

Much to my surprise when I asked my parents if I could get a guitar my father's response was "I'll bring the next one home that comes into the auction department." My father was an auctioneer, had a family owned business named Farris Brothers Furniture in Detroit where I was born and raised. Anything that didn't have roots going deep down into the Earth itself eventually came across the auction block. Auctions every Wednesday started promptly at 11am, rain or shine.

You can only imagine the excitement level when my father walked through the door after work one day with a raggedy old guitar case in hand! After a succession of thank you's I ran down into the basement of our house where I typically practiced and opened the guitar case as fast as my fingers could move the latches.

I wasn't really sure what I was looking at, this didn't look like any guitar I had seen before. I played a few guitars leading up to this, guitars that belonged to cousins or older brothers of school friends but I had never seen anything like this. I tried every day for a week to play the 2 or 3 chords that I knew or even a single note but it just wasn't manageable. The Strings were so far off of the fretboard that I couldn't push them down enough to make a sound. After explaining this to my father, the guitar went back down to the auction house and I waited as patiently as I could for the next guar to come in. It took years of becoming familiar with many of the different types of guitars before I realized that the first guitar my father brought me was a square neck Dobro resonator guitar that's make to be played on your lap with a tone bar (slide) not Spanish style which is what you typically see guitar players doing…… like to have that today!

The next guitar rig to come from the auction house set the standard for the type of gear that I use to this day, and electric guitar and a low wattage amplifier. The guitar was a 1959 Fender Duo Sonic, the amp a 1964 Fender Princeton. WOW!!!

Within months, after enough guitar lessons to have a very basic knowledge of the instrument my first basement band formed with like minded school friends. We did R&B and rock covers mostly, played local talent shows and battle of the bands while building the song list. Our first gigs were dance parties in church basements and school gyms, house parties, even did a grand opening of a shopping center. Had to be picked up and dropped off by volunteers because none of us were old enough to drive.

One band has turned into hundreds since then, I've played with more people than I would ever be able to remember. Some of them you might know, most of them you never will. So many talented people out there, I've been very fortunate and learned so much from many of the people I've worked with and for through the years….. and it's continuous.

Whether it's in some greasy little road house, an international festival by the sea in some romantic part of the world or anything between, as long as the music is good and people are enjoying it I'm honored to be a part of it……..


P.S.  Need a guitar player?