Home » Sounds of Syracuse » A Few Laughs with Mike Ferrar of Flatface and the Shemp Dells

A Few Laughs with Mike Ferrar of Flatface and the Shemp Dells

Flatface and the Shemp Dells (SAMMY Award winners) is one of those bands that just doesn’t go away. Flatface and the Shemp-DellsThey’ve been performing in the upstate New York area for years. They’ve made the rounds, rocking festivals and venues, such as The Taste of Syracuse, NYS Blues Fest, Beach Days, Party in the Pines, Backwoods Bash, Biker Events, Clubs, Bars, Campgrounds and private party’s. They even once played the Anaheim Convention Center in California on new years eve.

Their original songs play on the radio. TK99,  95X, and 105.9 The Rebel. They even find their way into Sarasota, Florida radio.  They’ve appeared on Syracuse television –  Rhythmz and UMTV and they’ve penned 2 theme songs. The theme song for the “Homegrown” radio show on TK99. and “Pin to win”­—the theme song for MEAN GENE MILLS.. 3 time world cup champion, 1980 Olympian, and Member of the Wrestling Hall of Fame!

They’ve shared stages with Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band, Blackfoot, John Berry, Lee Roy Parnell, David Lee Murphy, Commander Cody, Jimmy VanZant, Benny Mardones, Todd Hobin Band, Trampled Under Foot, Dana Fuchs.

To date, the band has been documented in four CD’s. Most recently “Mother Trucker,” which has the band, once again, busy with show dates blazing around in their old school van. I personally dig their new CD. It has a way of finding my inner trucker while I imagine leaning against the bar sipping better bourbon and a PBR (in a brown paper bag) -staring intently on the rack of Fritos behind the bar. Classice blues-based rockin’ good times with these guys.

I’ve acquainted somewhat with guitarist Mike Farrar over the last few years, so I was happy to check out his band’s new CD when it arrived.


CS: Howdy Mike! Thanks for doing the interview.feb2015-sound-band

MF: Hey Chuck! How’s it going?

CS: I’m ready to rock. How did you get started in music?

MF: Well……. I’d seen Chuck Berry on TV when I was just a little kid —I was hooked! My sister had an acoustic guitar that she never played. So, when nobody was around, I would get it out and play with it. (laughs)

CS: (It’s a hearty laugh.) Tell me about your group. Who’s in it? When did you start? What’s it all about?

MF: Our lineup is as follows: Tim “Gweemer” Allen (lead vocals harmonica, banjo); Bob Beattie (guitar and vocals); Mike Farrar (guitar, vocals, mandolin) Dan Cromp (bass); Jamie Puffer (drums); Justin DeAmbra (keys and vocals): and the 7th Shemp Mile-a-way on spoons!

CS: A true buncha’ characters…

MF: Gweemer and Bobby started the band back in the late 70’s. It’s been on and off since then. Dan and I joined in 1999, and put out our first CD “Yeah Baby.” We won a SAMMY with that one! That was very cool!

CS: Congratulations! Good work.

MF: We took a break in 2006, started jamming with Jamie and Justen in 2012; and it just “Clicked.” So here we are again, having fun writing, recording and playing.

CS: Congratulations. Good work, again! Please share with the unssuspecting where your music comes from.Who are your influences?

MF: The Dead, Neil Young, Little Walter, George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jerry Lee, Hendrix…  everything cool from the 50’s 60’s and 70’s. (pauses) I think that covers everybody in the band. (pauses and then laughs)

CS: You’re record sounds great. Warm grit. What kind of gear do you use?

MF: We use Fender guitars and basses, Fender tube amps, Mapex drums, Korg  keyboards’, and Roland amps.

CS: No messin’ around there… perfect choices for the inner trucker in your music. Mapex drums… wow. I love the way they sound… that wood rim on the snare…. Speaking of your album… how do you fellers go about that business?

MF: We went old school on this one.

CS: …Ahhh… here comes the name, “Moleski.”

MF: Yup. Two-inch tape at Moletrax Studio in Syracuse. Jeff was really cool to work with. And he has a really big room. It was nice to stretch out a little. (laughs)

CS: Any particular concept or inspiration for the album?

MF: We are kind of all over the place… (laughs) … Rock, country, blues, acoustic tunes… No concept really. If we like it, it goes on the CD. (pauses and does not laugh) Maybe next time we’ll do a concept album.

CS: You’ve been playing music along time.feb2015-sound-mike

MF: Yup.

CF: Stuff happens out there.

MF: mmm..

CS: C;mon, Mike, Lets hear a funny story?

MF: What happens on the bus stays on the bus!

CS: I’ll have to ask the bus, then.

MF: We have a old school bus we travel in.

CS: Haha… ok, ok… Here’s another question-with-potential, for you. Your thoughts on the CNY music scene?

MF:  There is a lot of talent in Onondaga and Oswego County! Cool bars and venues to play, open mic nite’s, You can get your tunes on SoundCheck with Dave Frisina on FM 105.9 The Rebel! Really can’t complain.

CS: Yeah! There seems to be a lot of new things brewing, too. So, what’s in the near-future for Flatface and the Shemp Dells?

MF: We’re gonna play some gigs, write some tunes, record, put out CD, repeat!

CS: Where can we all find you?

MF: www.shempsrock.com. We are on Facebook, iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. Or at your local bar on a Saturday night!

Chuck Schiele is an award-winning musician, songwriter, producer, promoter, editorialist, activist who plays in SaltCityChill. To be considered for this column please contact Chuck.Schiele@gmail.com.

Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is a lifelong, award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member Quatrocollective.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.

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