R&B And Soul Musicians In Recovery Share Their Stories

Har Mar Superstar celebrates happiness and sobriety on new album ‘Roseville’

March 8, 2021
Har mar Superstar

Courtesy of Graham Tolbert As Har Mar Superstar, Sean Tillmann is the master of ceremonies whenever he takes the stage. His concerts are legendary, necessary to be attended in order to “get” that while the Har Mar persona may seem, on the surface, like some Andy-Kaufman-as-Tony-Clifton shtick, he’s a damn talented musician and singer. Yes, he made his bones disrobing down to his briefs. Yes, he started out singing over pre-recorded click tracks in bars and clubs where the assembled few didn’t quite know what to make of him. And yes, he loved every single second of it, from the looks of confusion and unease at the start of each show to the effervescent ecstasy of shared musical communion by the time he played his encore. For the past two decades, he’s enjoyed something of an exalted status in the American indie rock scene, and his latest album, “Roseville” –…

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NOLA musical icon Ivan Neville savors life’s every moment, thanks to recovery

August 3, 2020
Ivan Neville

Courtesy of Jim Mimma Ivan Neville posted an old picture to Facebook the other day, and he marveled at the young man staring back at him from the other side of addiction recovery. It’s been more than three decades since it was taken, he told The Ties That Bind Us during a recent interview, and while the young multi-instrumentalist in his late 20s was dabbling in all manner of substances at the time, he hadn’t yet reached the depths of despair that were on the horizon. “Those were more innocent and fun times, even though I was doing a lot drugs. I was doing (cocaine) every day, but I wasn’t smoking it, and when I look at that picture, I can tell I was really messed up, but I could see where my face wasn’t totally sunken in yet,” Neville said. “I look very young, and I look pretty good…

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Levi Kreis: ‘The great thing about sobriety is … it doesn’t stop giving’

March 30, 2020
Levi Kreis

Courtesy of Rachel Love For Levi Kreis, home is a many-splendored spiritual mansion of vibrant rooms of memory intersected by long, dark hallways of shame and self-loathing. It’s the lined face and rough hands of Lee Roy, a grandfather Kreis remembers as a “remarkable man of faith, consistency, compassion and love, for me and my older brother, that still to this day is a lighthouse for me. A guide.” It’s a nurturing family gathered around the living room, singing and filling young Kreis with a love of song and performance that would land him a Tony Award and a music career that includes the release of a brand new EP, “Bad Habit,” which was unveiled earlier this month. It’s laughter and silliness, love and the bucolic peace of growing up in the small town of Oliver Springs, Tennessee. Home is also, he pointed out, the internalized shame from a message…

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Singer-songwriter Amanda Bocchi: ‘I don’t focus on staying sober. I focus on living’

June 3, 2019

The first time Amanda Bocchi’s life went off the rails, she was fleeing Georgia escaping an abusive relationship to detox in her father’s basement in order to keep from giving birth to an addicted baby. She had accepted the measure of her own addiction, but while she had reached a point of desperation, she had no idea what might be on the other side of the darkness that had consumed her life, she told The Ties That Bind Us recently. “I was sober for a year and a half after that, but I didn’t know about recovery,” said Bocchi, a singer-songwriter who frequently performs with her backing band, Americana Soul Flood. “I just knew that if I didn’t get clean, I was going to have a baby addicted to drugs. I was leaving a violent situation, so my mom came down to Georgia with a U-Haul, I moved into my…

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Soul rocker Katie Burke: Sobriety’s gift is the elevation of her art

December 17, 2018

Soul rocker Katie Burke: Sobriety’s gift is the elevation of her art Sensitivity makes her a talented artist, but it was a heavy cross for Katie Burke to carry during her adolescent years. It’s still a part of who she is, and the growing attention she’s getting as a ferocious blues/soul/rock singer for KB and The Idyllwilde, the band she founded and fronts, makes her a little nervous. But thanks to recovery, she’s in a better place than she’s ever been, and she has a program to fall back on in times of stress, she told The Ties That Bind Us recently. “That’s my worst fear, to be blindsided by dislike, and that’s why fame and success are frightening!” she said on a recent phone call from her Nashville home. “I want it, but I’m terrified of it. I think that’s why, even as a kid, I was just deeply…

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Grammy winner Mike Farris turns his addiction into a weapon for salvation

December 3, 2018

Grammy winner Mike Farris turns his addiction into a weapon for salvation It’s a funny thing, Mike Farris muses: The thing that damn near killed him has now become his greatest spiritual weapon. For years, the soul rocker, Grammy winner and former frontman of the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies struggled with his addiction. It left him destitute and derelict, living in Tyson Park on the fringes of the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville, not far from Cornerstone of Recovery; it followed him into a career revival that saw him reinvent his sound even as he succumbed to the siren song of opiates. These days he’s been clean and sober since 2011. He has a Grammy statue at the Nashville home he shares with his wife, Julie. And he uses his story as an inspiration to others who struggle with addiction, as well as to fans who have never touched a…

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Blues and soul singer Nakia trades survivor instincts for recovery skills

November 19, 2018

Blues and soul singer Nakia trades survivor instincts for recovery skills Addiction presents in a number of different ways, but it always comes down to a single undeniable symptom: The afflicted use external substances to ease internal anguish. Nakia Reynoso — the soul-and-blues singer with a voice that can range from an exploding barrel of gunpowder to a big cat’s growl rolling out of the jungle darkness — knows that all too well. And like most who find rebirth in the light of recovery, he lives today with the knowledge that things on the outside — food as a kid, fame as a contestant on “The Voice,” the drugs that nearly destroyed him — can never replace the spiritual connection that now sustains him. “I never had a problem putting down any of the drugs I used,” Nakia told The Ties That Bind Us recently. “It was always about realizing…

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Knoxville’s own Davis Mitchell: ‘I just had to surrender to the process’

October 22, 2018

Knoxville’s own Davis Mitchell: ‘I just had to surrender to the process’ For most of his life, musician Davis Mitchell has sought external balms for his internal soul wounds. Like most addicts and alcoholics, those dark places within cried out for relief, and even as a child, he tried to fill them with material things and substances that quieted his internal howls. “I can recall being obsessed with things like baseball cards, to the point I would shoplift them,” Mitchell tells The Ties That Bind Us. “My whole family used to drink, and I remember my granddad used to sip Miller ponies. I used to sit beside him while he smoked a cigarette and sipped on those things, and he would give me sips when I wasn’t even 5. I remember when I was 5, he gave me a whole one, and I drank it and loved it and was…

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