Mike Farris at the Sweetwater Music Hall, by William Wayland
Mike Farris (photo: William Wayland)

With the Sweetwater Music Hall audience serving as gospel choir, Mike Farris and the Fortunate Few took Mill Valley to church (or the nearest thing to it) with their performance on Friday.

I don’t listen to a lot of gospel music and I wasn’t familiar with Mike Farris until last week, despite his recent Grammy for Best Roots Gospel Album. For a cynic like me, his performance is almost too good — like he’s playing the role of a gospel singer. But that says more about me than it does about Mr. Farris. I think he’s the real deal, and you’re going to feel uplifted when you listen to him play.

The Bay Area’s Lender isn’t an obvious pairing, and I had to wonder how they ended up on the same bill. The trio has a sound that isn’t easy to define. At base they’re a jam band, but each riff reveals a new layer of rock and jazz influences that gives their music an unusual depth for such a young group of musicians.