Richard "Kirk" Farmer (born February 14, 1973) is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist originally 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, he was exposed to a wide variety of music ranging from Kenny Rogers to The Beatles to John Coltrane.
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 declined until he dropped out of high school following an arrest and a fourteen-day juvenile detention sentence. After 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 to attend Grateful Dead concerts.
At 16 Farmer joined his first band as their lead singer. The band was called "The Kind" and they specialized in performing bluesy and rocked up versions Grateful Dead covers. Farmer has always maintained that Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir were two of his major musical influences. As a gift from his girlfriend on his seventeenth birthday, he received his first electric guitar. He began to teach himself to play by memorizing the fingering charts of Grateful Dead songs. 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 clean and performing with some of the most well-respected musicians in the business. Many of them were seasoned blues and southern rock musicians twenty to thirty years his senior. He saw several of these musicians as mentors and derives much of his performance style from their influence. It was also during this time that Farmer began to make a name for himself both as a solo artist and as the front man for the Richmond-based rock act, Outcry.
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.
In 2003, at the age of 30, Farmer got his first taste of success, and failure, as a solo artist. After relocating to Roanoke, VA, 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 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 financial support for the 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.
Dirty Rumors was a 5 piece jam/rock band based out of Roanoke, VA. It was formed by Farmer and lead guitarist Tim (Caesar) O'Sullivan. The band was known for Farmer's gritty vocal work as well as the ensembles intricate musicianship and extended instrumental interludes. Typically billed as a jam band the groups sound alternates between hard rock, blues, jazz and funk, often in the same song.
Farmer and O'Sullivan met at an open mic jam at a bar in Roanoke County, Virginia in the fall of 2012. After several weeks of attending various open mic nights, they finally decided to start a band of their own. During their search for other musicians interested in the loose, jam style of rock that Farmer and O'Sullivan had cultivated, they encountered drummer Thomas Wilson and bass player Scott Sutton. At that time, Wilson and Sutton where hosting one of the open mic shows that Tim and Kirk frequented.
Farmer asked Scott and Thomas if they would be willing to play some shows with the budding duo that they had dubbed "Dirty Rumors". The name came from the rumor that Tim and Kirk had been playing together for a long period of time. In reality, the two had only recently met but had already built a musical rapport with one another that most musicians would have taken years to develop.
It wasn't until one of the band's first performances a few weeks later that keyboardist Ben Hite joined the band rounding out the official lineup. Ben was already a well known musician and was actively being pursued by several other bands in the valley.
Dirty Rumors worked steadily over the next couple of years performing in clubs and venues throughout Virginia including several large festivals and events.
January 2014 saw the release of the band's first EP entitled "Unity Gain". The EP featured an eclectic collection of songs written by Farmer and was recorded in bass player Scott Sutton home studio christened Gerbil Studios. The EP was produced by the band along with their audio engineer Nathan Potter. The first single entitled "Waiting" was well received by fans and critics alike and spawned a feature on PreSonus company's blog site. PreSonus is the company that manufactured the soundboard and software that the EP was recorded on. Though initial sales were slow, the band continued to promote it vigorously.
The band's next release was a live recording of one of their rare all acoustic performances. It featured a mix of both original and cover material and was entitled "Dirty Rumors Live and Acoustic". It was released almost exclusively to fans and was never distributed through mainstream outlets like Unity Gain.
The band who's claim to fame in the local music scene was the fact that the never rehearsed actually played together every Thursday night for more than a year as the host of their own open mic jam called The Dirty Rumors Freak Jam. However, the open mic night as well as the bands regular performance schedule came to an end when Farmer announced that he was relocating back to Raleigh, NC. The band decided to stay together despite the distance and infrequent contact.
On July 4 of 2015, the band's drummer and rhythmic anchor, Thomas Wilson, died in his home. He had been in poor health for several years but his death was a blow to the band. A memorial concert was held for Wilson soon after his death. The remaining band members are planning to repeat the event annually in his honor.
Despite the fact that Dirty Rumors has not officially disbanded, they have not performed or recorded together as a band since Wilson's death. However, Farmer and O'Sullivan continue to write and record together.
Kirk Farmer is also the owner and lead audio engineer for an online based audio mixing and mastering company called K14 Studios. The company was founded in 2007 and continues to operate from their home office in Raleigh, NC.
- Style Weekly Magazine, April 2001
- Richmond Music Journal, June 1996
- Interview with Kirk Farmer, September 2009
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