Jim Pharis is no Spring chicken, that’s for sure. But the miles driven, the late nights gigs with a day job just hours away, and the experience that only comes from living life are evident in the acoustic blues that he plays.
Besides his own compositions in the country blues vein, Jim has also specialized in finding and arranging acoustic blues gems. These are songs by artists like Bo Carter, Big Bill Broonzy and Oscar “Buddy” Woods.
Pharis began playing guitar as a 12 year old on a 3/4 second hand Sears and Roebuck guitar that he bought with grass cutting money. After his parents realized how obsessed he was with it, a new, full sized guitar appeared at Christmas time.
Thanks to a local guitar teacher who was a devoted Chet Atkins fan, Jim was exposed to the world of fingerstyle guitar. He began delving into the music of Paul Simon, Brownie McGee, Mississippi John Hurt and John Fahey.
As a native of Central Louisiana, he was also heavily exposed to the music of the Southern Baptist Church which his family faithfully attended. It was in church that he first began performing in public.
After high school and a brief, ill-fated college career, Pharis began working a series of jobs, all while continuing to work on learning to perfect his guitar playing abilities. He worked, among other things, as a riverboat deckhand, waiter, salesman, darkroom technician, and purchasing agent. The only regular factor in all of those years was his passion to learn the guitar.
Jim also began to play the electric bass and moved to Austin, TX in the mid-1980’s. There he played in several blues bands, including the original lineup of The Solid Senders. With that band he played clubs and festivals, including the first two South By Southwests.
Following his stint as a bass player, Pharis again began to concentrate on the acoustic fingerstyle guitar. While living in Madison, WI, recovering from a major illness, he had an epiphany. This “light bulb” moment was the realization of HOW and WHAT to learn to play to become the musician that he envisioned himself as.
While in the Mid West he began working as a solo artist playing coffeehouses, restaurants, resorts and night clubs. In 2002 Jim returned to Louisiana, settling in the Lafayette area where he plays music, publishes a fingerstyle guitar instructional website and teaches fingerstyle guitar.
As for his newest album Sure to Offend it showcases Jims fingerpicking guitar work and proves he is more of a writer than singer when it comes to the singer/songwriter genre but thats not his genre.Jims more of a folk fella who doesnt give you the blues he is definitely indie and his playing has soul,and I get the idea he thinks about whats happening in his country.
The songs are full of humour about daily life the instrumentals catch your attention and make you sit up and listen.Highlight are “Gun Rag” and “Chandler’s Century”.On the dreaded scale of 1-10 Sure to Offend gets a well deserved 7.5. No offence meant, you have to take into account I have been listening to a lot of Courtney Marie Andrews the last few weeks so maybe I should have given it a 8.
According to his promotional note with the CD, it was recorded over a period of two days on a single microphone and self-produced with the help of a Kickstarter campaign.It doesnt sound like it.10/10 for effort.He could have gone inside to do it.
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