New single grows
in popular appeal
By Susan Mires
ST. JOSEPH—Chris Filer straps on his guitar and steps onto the stage at the county fair. A Ferris wheel spins in the background and not far off, 4-H steers bellow in the pens.
Filer starts the set with “Joy Ride,” the first single released from his album. They play some popular country songs that get the crowd singing along. Filer tells the audience the next song holds a lot of meaning for him and the band kicks off with the toe-tapping tune, “When It Don’t Come Easy.”
The song is more than a story about a candy apple Mustang, or getting the girl, or even the title track to Filer’s first album. For this Missouri Baptist, it’s also a guiding principle.
“While others only dream, the winners work for their rewards,” the song states. Filer has been working hard to share his music and message at festivals and farm-related events around the Midwest.
“I never know where I’m going to be,” he said.
As the busy summer show season winds down, Filer is excited about releasing his second single “John Deere, John 3:16.” The song honors the faith of hard-working farmers, and the first time his manager played the song for him, Filer knew it was the perfect choice for the album. He later learned that other established artists had tried to record the song, but were turned down.
“It fits so well in the country market, and yet it gets the message out there. I feel it was a total blessing to get permission to do that,” he said.
From soybean fields to worship leader and now to country music radio, it has been something of a “Joy Ride” for Filer and his family.
Filer was saved at age 18 when Kelly, his future wife, invited him to a revival meeting. Music has long been a part of their lives; they played in bands together in high school and managed the family music show at “The Farm” in Harrisonville. They also traveled with an eight-piece contemporary Christian band.
“It has definitely been a whirlwind these last couple of years,” Kelly Filer said. “We know that music will always be a part of our lives, but it is exciting to see all the different opportunities we’ve had and to see Chris’s music career grow.”
After graduating from the University of Missouri, Filer went to work for his father-in-law at NeCo Seeds. Now co-owner of the business, he enjoys working in the agriculture industry and serves as vice president of the Missouri Soybean Association. The association is an official sponsor of the tour; he’s proud to say the bus runs on biodiesel made from soybeans.
The Filers are members of Heart of Life Church, which used to be First Baptist Church of Garden City. At concerts, the band plays popular country songs, but avoids those about drinking or cheating. His own songs all have a positive message and he and his wife also recorded a gospel album.
“I love the performance side, but I really love the songwriting side,” Filer said.
He started writing music in high school and was worship leader at the church where he was previously a member. Filer and his brother, Bill, concentrated on songwriting for the last few years. It’s still thrilling to hear a congregation sing one of their worship songs.
“Eventually it got to where we had a pile of songs I wanted to record, I didn’t want anyone else to record them,” Filer said.
He hired a manager and in Nashville recorded the CD of 11 fresh songs, which blend uplifting country with themes of family, faith and patriotism. Filer and his band then started playing at clubs. The experience was quite a contrast to the church circuit.
“Kelly and I struggled a long time with going to those places,” Filer said, but they eventually felt it was where God was leading them. “It might be a different environment, but we were going with the same purpose and mission.”
Playing at clubs led to bookings at festivals, where the band has more of a chance to play their original music and interact with fans.
“We really just want to provide positive entertainment for people, and we believe that Chris’s project does that,” Kelly Filer said. “Many of his songs have a message and can really connect to a lot of listeners.”
Filer has played with national acts such as Jake Owen and Easton Corbin, but has no ambitions of being the next big country star.
“We love it for what it is and that’s playing the fairs and rural communities,” he said.
The tour is also a family affair – brother-in-law Chad Middaugh plays the drums and is music manager, Middaugh’s uncle drives the bus, Filer’s sons Jacob and Lucas both play instruments, and daughter Grace just started violin lessons.
They’ve made many new friends, some of whom have been intrigued by their Christian lifestyle.
“God has put these people in our lives. We’re around them and they see a different side of the business,” Filer said.
In the coming months, Filer will be playing at showcase events to get bookings for next summer. He’s thinking about recording another album to include his song “Daddy’s Home.” About 40 radio stations have picked up the “John Deere John 3:16” single and he’s excited to see where God takes his music career, even though he knows it won’t come easy.
His next public show in Missouri will be Sept. 25 at the Stoddard County Fair. For more information, visit www.chrisfilermusic.com.