Justin Farren
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Justin Farren

Sacramento, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | SELF

Sacramento, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2000
Solo Folk Acoustic

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Sep
07
Justin Farren @ Sisters Folk Festival

Sisters, Oregon, United States

Sisters, Oregon, United States

May
19
Justin Farren @ McFarland Living History Ranch

Galt, California, United States

Galt, California, United States

Apr
28
Justin Farren @ House Concert Eugene OR

Eugene, Oregon, United States

Eugene, Oregon, United States

Music

Press


"Show Of The Week"

Show of The Week!

If you are in LA be sure to check out Justin Farren performing at Genghis Cohen at 9pm.

When it comes to his songs, Justin Farren is nothing short of a master craftsman. Compared to Dan Bern, Greg Brown, Chris Smither, and Jack Johnson. Justin paints lyrical pictures that are firmly rooted in the reality of day-to-day life. His delivery is humorous, thoughtful and engaging. His guitar playing is lively, intricate, and seemingly boundless.

Justin has played numerous shows on California’s west coast and has been honored to open for national artists including Bret Dennen, Hot Buttered Rum, Matt Costa, Jackie Greene, Bhi Bhiman and Amber Rubarth. He was voted “Best Lyricist” in 2010 by Sacramento Magazine and and “Best Musician” in 2009 and 2010 by the Sacramento News and Review. Justin’s song “Midnight at The Fair” was voted the “2012 SONG OF THE YEAR” at The West Coast Songwriters, State-Wide Grad Playoff Event at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, and he was a 2012 Regional Finalist in the Newsong Mountain Stage Competition, one of the premier showcases of emerging performing songwriters in North America.
- HITS Daily Double


"Out Of Bounds"

Introversion arguably produces the best artists. Those who can spend hours holed up in isolation working on a project often emerge with a gem. Land them at a party or social gathering, however, and they’re quickly making a beeline to the nearest bathroom or unoccupied space.

Justin Farren is an exemplary introvert. If he’s not out backpacking or camping, then he is keeping busy on a project—fixing up his yellow truck, woodworking or writing an album in his garage. For this local singer/songwriter, touring means treading outside his comfort zone.

You might not know it if you saw him perform, but it is nothing short of a challenge.

He was in fact on tour as he was explaining this over the phone, camping with some friends in Bellingham, Wash., and prepping for a show that same night.

Touring, he concludes, is good for him. Given any other circumstance, “I’d want to just go hide,” he says. But after a show, he has no choice but to open up and talk to people.

After three or four more shows along the North Coast, he returns to the Sacramento area for his April 6 CD release show at the CSA Event Center, celebrating the release of his album Another Bluebird Day. Then he’ll continue down to Southern California to promote the album.

This is Farren’s third album. With the exception of his friends Brian Rogers on drums and Emily Kollars singing backup vocals, the album is all Farren, from the guitar, bass, keyboard and shakers to the samples of him pounding aluminum cans. This project sums up his last six months, which were spent recording and mixing the entire thing in his garage-turned-studio at his house.

There is nothing obscure about Farren’s songs. Over immaculate finger picking and slide guitar, he sings with lighthearted honesty about life’s tougher blows, compacted into three to four minute folk pop, storytime songs.

“It has these kind of heartbreaking ideas, and I think that the whole album hopefully places these in a light of appreciation,” he says. “Stand in those moments where it would be easy to be depressed, and just appreciate that you got to have those experiences.”

Farren grew up in Elk Grove when it was nothing more than fields, long before it overdosed on suburban steroids. There are no known musicians in his family, though he says there’s talk of a bad-ass accordionist amongst his ancestry. But somewhere along the way, Farren taught himself how to play music, and he’s been at it ever since.

Within the last five or six years, he’s even been able to make a living off it. He’s opened for the likes of Hot Buttered Rum, Matt Costa and Jackie Greene. He was voted “Best Lyricist” in 2010 by Sacramento Magazine and “Best Musician” in 2009 and 2010 by the Sacramento News and Review.

Farren released his last album, Songs from Spare Rooms, in 2008. Those songs were all written in the two years he surfed couches while his house was being built. (It’s worth mentioning that Farren and his now-fiancée built their house in Oak Park from scratch, inspired by a trip they made to Alaska in 2004.)

“We thought, well, let’s just build a house and not think too much about it,” he says.

It’s where the two currently reside, with three dogs, two of which are lovingly named Pickle Breath and Mr. Pig. Indeed, they have been sources of inspiration. Pickle Breath inspired the song on the album, “Sometimes I Like to Kill Things Too.” Go on to Farren’s music page on Facebook, and you will see several flattering photos of Mr. Pig (who, by the way, needs a new happy home).

“Mr. Pig, the one in all the pictures, is maybe the nicest dog I’ve ever known,” Farren says with utmost sincerity. “So I can’t take him to the SPCA, I have to find him a home.”

Other than Mr. Pig, here is an excerpt of more interesting things that came up in the conversation.

So we were talking about your place in Oak Park, how long ago did you build that?
We started in 2005. It took a couple years, we moved in in late 2007.

What prompted you to do that?
The summer before, in 2004, my girlfriend and I went and worked in Alaska in a really tiny little town called McCarthy, just as something to do. We drove up and we worked in this little town, and a lot of the people up there build their own homes. Over the five or six months that we were there, we were talking to a lot of the locals and kind of getting inspired, like that might be some cool thing to do. We decided we wanted to try it when we got home.

I read that you consider yourself a little bit of an introvert, so I was wondering if touring was a challenge.
Oh yeah, it’s a huge challenge. It always has been and I think it always will be… The more tours I go on, the higher my threshold gets. I am able to comfortably sleep on a stranger’s couch and wake up and make them breakfast, and have a morning conversation with someone that I don’t know. Fifteen years ago that would have been mortifying and terribly difficult for me to even imagine doing. - Submerge Magazine


"Out Of Bounds"

Introversion arguably produces the best artists. Those who can spend hours holed up in isolation working on a project often emerge with a gem. Land them at a party or social gathering, however, and they’re quickly making a beeline to the nearest bathroom or unoccupied space.

Justin Farren is an exemplary introvert. If he’s not out backpacking or camping, then he is keeping busy on a project—fixing up his yellow truck, woodworking or writing an album in his garage. For this local singer/songwriter, touring means treading outside his comfort zone.

You might not know it if you saw him perform, but it is nothing short of a challenge.

He was in fact on tour as he was explaining this over the phone, camping with some friends in Bellingham, Wash., and prepping for a show that same night.

Touring, he concludes, is good for him. Given any other circumstance, “I’d want to just go hide,” he says. But after a show, he has no choice but to open up and talk to people.

After three or four more shows along the North Coast, he returns to the Sacramento area for his April 6 CD release show at the CSA Event Center, celebrating the release of his album Another Bluebird Day. Then he’ll continue down to Southern California to promote the album.

This is Farren’s third album. With the exception of his friends Brian Rogers on drums and Emily Kollars singing backup vocals, the album is all Farren, from the guitar, bass, keyboard and shakers to the samples of him pounding aluminum cans. This project sums up his last six months, which were spent recording and mixing the entire thing in his garage-turned-studio at his house.

There is nothing obscure about Farren’s songs. Over immaculate finger picking and slide guitar, he sings with lighthearted honesty about life’s tougher blows, compacted into three to four minute folk pop, storytime songs.

“It has these kind of heartbreaking ideas, and I think that the whole album hopefully places these in a light of appreciation,” he says. “Stand in those moments where it would be easy to be depressed, and just appreciate that you got to have those experiences.”

Farren grew up in Elk Grove when it was nothing more than fields, long before it overdosed on suburban steroids. There are no known musicians in his family, though he says there’s talk of a bad-ass accordionist amongst his ancestry. But somewhere along the way, Farren taught himself how to play music, and he’s been at it ever since.

Within the last five or six years, he’s even been able to make a living off it. He’s opened for the likes of Hot Buttered Rum, Matt Costa and Jackie Greene. He was voted “Best Lyricist” in 2010 by Sacramento Magazine and “Best Musician” in 2009 and 2010 by the Sacramento News and Review.

Farren released his last album, Songs from Spare Rooms, in 2008. Those songs were all written in the two years he surfed couches while his house was being built. (It’s worth mentioning that Farren and his now-fiancée built their house in Oak Park from scratch, inspired by a trip they made to Alaska in 2004.)

“We thought, well, let’s just build a house and not think too much about it,” he says.

It’s where the two currently reside, with three dogs, two of which are lovingly named Pickle Breath and Mr. Pig. Indeed, they have been sources of inspiration. Pickle Breath inspired the song on the album, “Sometimes I Like to Kill Things Too.” Go on to Farren’s music page on Facebook, and you will see several flattering photos of Mr. Pig (who, by the way, needs a new happy home).

“Mr. Pig, the one in all the pictures, is maybe the nicest dog I’ve ever known,” Farren says with utmost sincerity. “So I can’t take him to the SPCA, I have to find him a home.”

Other than Mr. Pig, here is an excerpt of more interesting things that came up in the conversation.

So we were talking about your place in Oak Park, how long ago did you build that?
We started in 2005. It took a couple years, we moved in in late 2007.

What prompted you to do that?
The summer before, in 2004, my girlfriend and I went and worked in Alaska in a really tiny little town called McCarthy, just as something to do. We drove up and we worked in this little town, and a lot of the people up there build their own homes. Over the five or six months that we were there, we were talking to a lot of the locals and kind of getting inspired, like that might be some cool thing to do. We decided we wanted to try it when we got home.

I read that you consider yourself a little bit of an introvert, so I was wondering if touring was a challenge.
Oh yeah, it’s a huge challenge. It always has been and I think it always will be… The more tours I go on, the higher my threshold gets. I am able to comfortably sleep on a stranger’s couch and wake up and make them breakfast, and have a morning conversation with someone that I don’t know. Fifteen years ago that would have been mortifying and terribly difficult for me to even imagine doing. - Submerge Magazine


"Storytellers, Killers and Other Small Truths"

Inspiration comes to local singer-songwriter Justin Farren in little, seemingly meaningless moments. For instance, he once watched a friend go through a nasty breakup and still remembers the incident that summarized the pettiness of the split: The friend’s ex came over to claim all his Nintendo games.

Whether the former girlfriend actually wanted the games or just wanted to hurt the guy, it marked how low things had sunk, and the scene eventually ended up in lyric form: “She broke your heart / and she took your time / and all your Nintendo games.”

“Faith, Hope, Etc.,” which draws on what it was like for Farren to console his friend during that time, is now the opening track on his new album Another Bluebird Day.

The record marks a shift for Farren with a collection that’s decidedly more intimate than earlier works. Here, Farren still employs other musicians, with Brian Rogers on drums and Emily Kollars on backing vocals, but it’s the singer’s guitar and voice that take center stage, highlighting what he does best: sharing bits and pieces of his life.

“The songs I write are the byproduct of my life … the things I love to do or the things that happen. The songs are what come out,” Farren says.

The subject matter varies. “Sometimes I Like to Kill Things Too,” for example, is a whimsical track that Farren wrote one day after catching his dog killing his neighbor’s rabbits. The incident made him wonder if he was all that different than his dog. After all, he too killed (directly or indirectly) living creatures: plants, cows, spiders, etc.

“I feel like here’s a universal truth, that just by existing, you have edged something else out. You’ve probably destroyed something on a daily basis just be being alive. It kind of makes light of that idea,” Farren says.

When it comes to songwriting, Farren says he tries not to exaggerate. While he could easily take the kernels of truth and build off then with fictitious, more dramatic retellings, he chooses not to. Rather, Farren prefers his work remain an authentic expression of his life.

“The origins of most of my songs are these little mundane moments, but if you see the context of the things that led to that particular moment, then all of a sudden, you might see what’s interesting about them,” he says.

One of the most sentimental new songs is “Little Blue Dirtbike,” which recounts the summer Farren spent with his grandfather when he was 5. Farren wrote the song after his grandfather died, and its retelling of moments—such as the time his grandfather taught him how to play pool—exhibit an understated sense of emotion.

“That summer was my main experience with him. It talks about my viewpoint and learning about this man, and that being my only real memory of the guy,” Farren says. Such attention to personal detail, he says, is a way for listeners to know and understand him—not just as a musician.

“I feel like I’m showing enough of myself … that if people resonate with [my music], chances are we can hang out and just be friends,” he says. “If they get the songs, then they get me.”

Farren’s musical leanings started when he was young and discovered folk singers Greg Brown and Chris Smither, admiring both for their literary style of songwriting. Now, he says, he tries to bring that same quality to his work.

“It forces me to really condense the story down to the most pertinent lines in the most refined way,” he says. “I really love trying to find just the perfect words to fit in just the perfect lines that explains the story—that also gives you room to interpret it in your own way as well.” - Sacramento News & Review


"It is funny, tender, ironic and wonderful..."

Like the wonderful Benjamin Shaw here in the UK, observational singer-songwriter Justin Farren has a world view that is as skewed as it is idiosyncratic as it is unassuming.

However, being from across the pond, his is a view coloured by his Californian upbringing and consequently we get 70 second songs about awkward palm trees growing out of concrete, glue guns and anxieties over asphalt burns from sex in a parking lot.

And we get a song warning the people who have stolen from him what a pile of junk they’ve got themselves and how to get the best out of his possessions. A song which somehow comes across like a speed-fuelled Loudon Wainwright III duelling with Arol Guthrie.

The album is Songs From Spare Rooms and while it will never sell millions, it is funny, tender, ironic and wonderful and you should buy it. From Amazon on import here or cdbaby here. - madmackerel


"Time flies bye while this one is playing…and when it is over you will want more."

It is not often I stumble upon an artist quite like Justin Farren, but perhaps that needs to change. You see, in the world we live in today…one where we need immediate responses and pleasure always at our fingertips…maybe it is time for the succinct storyteller. One that is able to find the positive in any negative daily life situation which may have confronted us at some point, and spin it favorably with a short song.
Well, allow me to introduce to you the immensely talented Justin Farren. His latest release Songs From Spare Rooms is a collection of 16 songs he has written which are packed with tongue in cheek frivolity. Some of these songs are quite short, but they still pack quite a punch.

From the beginning, you can hear the talents flowing in Justin’s ability to tell a story, sing it well, and his bare instrumental arrangements are the perfect accompaniment to truly make each song shine. Many will immediately hear a similarity to early Jason Mraz material, which is certainly not a bad thing at all. Even Justin pokes fun at this in his song Where Did I Leave My Sweater.
This cd is one which will find you singing along …laughing at his lyrics…and sometimes shaking your head in amazement wondering “did he just say what I thought he did?”. Time flies bye while this one is playing…and when it is over you will want more.

So thank you Justin. You have me hooked. Now where can we quench this immediate need for more??? - AmericanaRoots.com


"Songbird Sweet"

Justin's voice is songbird sweet and full of summer soul. His guitar playing seems to know no limitations. With just his voice and an acoustic guitar the guy could get a whole room dancing. He exudes raw groove... Throughout the cd's 13 songs (and one music video) Justin makes it clear that he is a major talent on the singer/songwriter scene. - alive'n'kickin magazine


"It will make you needlessly happy"

Thanks to Jack Johnson, any acoustic artist with a syncopated strum and staccato singing style is considered a copycat. People assume Jack invented the whole baked and bouncy guitar sound. He didn't. Then who did? I don't know, nor do I really care. Neither does Justin Farren, a hip and happy singer/songwriter from Sacramento whose album, Sound of Flight, evokes the sparse and intoxicatingly chill ethos of Jack. Oh well.

Let's just say Jack and Justin are doctors for the same disease. Responding to a generation weary of self-important emo-music, Farren reminds the listener that not every song need be about breaking up. Sorry, Dashboard Confessional. In fact, the content of The Sound of Flight is inane in a pleasant sort of way; Farren chastises our sometimes-uptight world with whimsy, singing about flies (La Cancion De La Mosca), fantasies, tadpoles (The Tadpole Song), and the like. Fun? You bet. This album entertains, and needn't do anything more.

But lolling guitar picking aside, Farren knows his aesthetic well, and exhibits strong melodic sense with an easy, dancing tenor voice reminiscent of Damien Rice and Stephen Bishop. His lyrics abound with bizarre energy and the arbitrary resonance of famed lyricist Paul Simon. Adding a bit of exoticism, most of the titles on The Sound of Flight are in Spanish, except for my favorite, "The Tadpole Song," in which Farren imagines a rich universe of singing, loving, hanging out with friends, and of course, tadpoles.

Justin also has a rather good music video on his site, www.justinfarren.com . The video is for his song "We Don't Work", which isn't on The Sound of Flight, but worth checking out nonetheless. If you want to see Justin Farren live, you have to go to Sacramento, where he lives. I know, I know: Sacramento isn't exactly the place you'd expect Farren's music to thrive--but it does. If you can't see him live (I'm told his live shows are "an intense listening session..."), buy his album. Please. It will make you needlessly happy.
I give it four high-fives - www.ariaglobal.org


Discography

Another Blue Bird Day

Spare Rooms

Sound of Flight

Smog Check

Photos

Bio

Accolades:

Mainstage Perfomer - Kerrville Folk Festival (2017)                                               Mainstage Performer- Wildflower Arts and Music Festival (2017)                           Teacher/ Artist in Residence- Wilcox Weekend, Ashville North Carolina (2017)          Teacher/ Artist in Residence- Sisters Americana Song School, Sisters Oregon (2017) Teacher/ Artist in Residence- LAMB's Retreat, Harbor Point Michigan (2017)

Wins -Kerrville New Folk competition (2016)                                                                 Wins People's Choice -Wildflower Arts and Music Festival (2016)                                  Honorable Mention -Planet Bluegrass Telluride Troubadour contest (2016)            

Official Showcase SWRFA  (2015)                                                                              2nd Place - Planet Bluegrass Folks Fest Competition (2013)
Honorable Mention - Planet Bluegrass Telluride Troubadour contest (2013)
Regional Finalist - NewSong Mountain Stage (2012)
Song Of The Year - West Coast Songwriter (2012)
Best Musician - Sacramento News & Review (2009 / 2010)
Best Lyricist - Sacramento Magazine (2010)

Bio:

     Justin Farren has always been a person of intense focus, I call it his master focus. The story goes that he learned to read at three, and ride a motorized dirt bike at four. Legends are common in his family, from grand larcenist to circus perfomer ancestors and a solo pilot grandma

     Justin was the lead shot putter at his school, and had a perfect basketball shot.  He loved sports, and hoped to play professionally one day.
Then, a bend in the road when his brother decided they should start a band. Justin got a bass and a book of basic chords, and switched lanes.  His master focus shifted from sports to songs and, since then, songs have been what mattered most. He learned albums by ear from start to finish, it was the real beginning of 'doing it yourself' for what became a do it yourself man.

     At 15, he bought Yellow, the truck of his life.  He rebuilt the engine, twice. (The first time it burst into flames.) This is just one example of how  he became an independent, stable person well before his peers. In truth, Justin seems to be aging in reverse, younger and  younger as the years pass. He is way more likely to toilet paper a house now than he ever was as a kid.
  
    Justin wanted to record albums, so he became a recording engineer. Justin wanted his own house, so he built it from the ground up.  Justin wanted to work for himself, so he took his house building knowledge and became a handyman extraordinaire.  Really, he's like what many of us may think of our grandparents: Intense, hardworking, autonomous, highly skilled in their pursuits. 

    Which leads us back to songwriting.  I would throw up if I tried to write a Justin Farren song.  He looks at a song in such a multidimensional way, but the end result is enchanting, and feels effortless.  Justin plays a cheap guitar, But is often asked about its tone.  I think the sound they hear is in his playing. I can only barely explain what he's doing, a combination of unboxed fluidity, and muted space when it serves.

   Justin lives a humble life in small house in the most  working class part of town. Still driving old Yellow, and wearing mostly previously owned clothes.  He lives abundantly, he eats real food, and plays music with his favorite people.  He would say he's a lucky guy, but I think we are the lucky guys to have him around.  Maybe I'm biased, I married him.  ~Kerry Farren    

has played with:
David Wilcox, Piece Pettis, Bret Dennen, Hot Buttered Rum, Jeffrey Martin, Anna Tivel, Matt Costa, and Amber Rubarth




Band Members