Local Musician Realizes Grammy Dream

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Rick Faris strums the strings of his guitar as easily as most people breath.

It's a skill that's taken him from traveling to gigs across the country in the family van to a seat at Sunday's Grammy awards in Los Angeles.

"I was blown away," Rick said of receiving the news. "I didn't believe it three days later!"

Rick is a member of Special Consensus. The group received a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album, Scratch Gravel Road.

"We always had high hopes and we aimed high, but I never saw (a Grammy nomination) as a possibility," he said. "Back then I didn't even know there was a category for bluegrass.

"Back then" was when Rick, his three brothers and his parents performed as the Faris Family, gaining quite a following from their home base in Ozawkie, along with a host of awards in bluegrass circles.

It's time Rick says prepared him well for this next step. He says with a laugh that it taught him patience in being able to set aside the inevitable squabbles that arise when you're spending that much time with people. But, as the end of the day, he says, it's still a family and everyone loves each other.

"It's been vital to know you have to roll with the punches," Rick said.

Rick made the move to Special Consensus three years ago. He met group co-founder Greg Cahill of Chicago about ten years ago at a bluegrass festival. Cahill actually started the group back in 1975. Rick first heard them when the Faris Family brought them to Valley Falls for one of their shows.

Rick heard they had an opening for a guitar player and auditioned. Greg ultimately chose someone else, but called to ask Rick if he played any other instruments. When Rick replied that, yes, he played a few other things, Greg asked if he played mandolin. Rick said sure, relating the story now with a laugh because the full answer was more like, "Sure, sort of, not really my specialty."

Rick says he had two months to become a mandolin player and got the job.

What's followed has been a period of unparalleled success for Special Consensus. Scratch Gravel Road landed the group its first number one album and first Grammy nomination. They're also performing regularly, traveling last year to Ireland and the UK.

Keeping him grounded through it all, Rick says, are his wife Nicole and two-year-old son Parker. With the band expected to be on the road 130 days this year, Rick says, "You appreciate time at home. It's precious."

Every once in a while, that includes a family jam at his parents' home. Rick says the Faris Family still tries to get together for one public performance a year. He's not the only one finding success pursuing musical dreams. Oldest brother, James, performs with the bluegrass comedy group The Cleverlys in Branson, Missouri. Younger brother Eddie was the first to leave the family group when he landed a spot with Ricky Skaggs' band Kentucky Thunder in 2009 - a job he continues today. The youngest, James, is studying toward a music degree.

But Rick has bragging rights in making it to the Grammy awards audience as a nominee first. Whether or not it's topped with a win, Rick plans to enjoy the ride.

"I'm just so excited to go to a place with that much music around," Rick said. "To be invited - it's a great honor."

Who would he be most excited to meet? Rick says he's met pretty much all of the top bluegrass talent, so his pick would be Michael Buble. Although, he jokes, "Katie Perry would be cool!"

The bluegrass awards are given out before the televised portion, but look for Rick in the audience when the Grammys air Sunday night on CBS.