Friday, January 27, 2017

Miller And The Other Sinners – 3 Nights At The Strand Live

My favorite artists tend to be those hard working bands that pour everything they’ve got into a performance. Listening to an album is nice, and maybe it’s my theatrical background, but I absolutely love to see a group work in front of an audience.
The way some bands connect with their fans is amazing to watch. There becomes kind of a collective sense with audience members – they transform from a group of strangers into a real honest to God living breathing organism for the time that they are watching the group. They are not just watching, they are participating and giving energy back to the performers.
Yeah, I love watching live shows, and I encourage you to catch as many live shows as you can. You won’t be sorry.
That’s a long way around to introducing the latest effort by a great live band, Miller And Other Sinners, 3 Nights At The Strand Live. The Miller in question is David M. Miller, who grew up in New York state and is well versed in a variety of styles of music. Like many a blues performer, he grew up in the church singing gospel, and was later exposed to a variety of music. His voice is rock solid as is his musicianship and he’s one helluva songwriter. Miller composed all nine of the songs on this live album and incorporates different styles while making them all sound like they come from the heart.
I love the concept of this album. Miller and his group have a tough schedule, putting somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 miles a year on the road. Ouch. I doubt if there is anywhere they haven’t played yet, and all that live playing has honed them into a razor sharp unit.
On 3 Nights At The Strand, Miller features the major components of their live shows. He often starts out as a solo acoustic, just him and his guitar joined by Jason Moynihan on sax. The second set was the normal four piece touring band. Finally, during the third set, the whole nine piece band joins them and they play some heavier blues. Perhaps this is Miller’s vision of the band in the future, and I have to say that it is a very bright future indeed.
Aside from Miller and Moynihan, the other sinners consist of Donta Myles on bass; Deshawn “D Ray” Jackson and Carlton Campbell on drums; Jimmy Ehinger on keys; Barry Arbogast and Jim Bohm on horns; and Sharon Bailey and Erinn Benning join Miller and Moynihan on vocals.
The first cut is one of two new songs on the album, Rise. While all of the other songs have been previously released, they were recorded in the studio, not as live versions. It’s got a pounding rhythm and a swampy feel that hooks you right off the bat. You can feel the gospel fervor in Miller’s voice.
He follows up with a slow emotional tune, Just Ride. The combo gives it a great sound and the guitar work is impeccable. As much as I like the song, and I like it very much, at 11:00 long, it will be tough for me to work it into a segment on Time For The Blues. That’s one drawback for those of us with limited time on the air – sharing some of these great live cuts, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it personally…
Next up is the raucous Born To Lose, and the band is in top form. The energy is palpable and you can tell that the audience is really into this song. Nothing wrong with a good rocking number!
The gentle Carolina Bound may just be my favorite song on the album. A duo of Miller and Moynihan, it starts off with just guitar and voice and adds Moynihan’s plaintive sax later. It’s a breathy jazzy vocal with some beautiful poetry making up the lyrics.
Next up is another longer song, Diggin On Bill, that features the entire band. It’s got a jazzy blues feel showcasing the group’s versatility. Miller has such an expressive voice and he handles the different styles with ease.
Switching gears, he uses his guitar to usher in the next cut, Friend Of Mine. It’s a solid run that is very expressive and sets the mood nicely. Miller And The Other Sinners is not afraid to play quieter songs, forcing the audience to really listen to them. This is a beautiful number, and Moynihan plays the sax the way I always dreamed of playing it. Love it…
They raise the stakes somewhat on Movin On, using a pulsing driving rhythm to kick it off. It’s a blue collar song – solid, no frills; the kind of song that will get an audience involved.
Next up is the other new song on the album, a solo turn, Day To Remember. Very much like the previous Carolina Bound, it’s quiet and introspective. The song is one that washes over you and if you do, you just might find yourself really loving it. Again, Miller’s lyrics show great depth and he brings emotion out in every note.
The album concludes with the longest cut, Hope Finds A Way, which was previously recorded on the album Poisons Sipped. It’s a rocking number that gives the band a chance to show just how good they are.
There are so many great bands working that unfortunately haven’t received their big break yet. Some just curse their luck and fade away, while others keep on pounding on the wall until it breaks down, sometimes building a following one audience at a time. I won’t suppose which category Miller And The Other Sinners might fall into, because my money is on them to break through in a big way.
If you listen to the way they respect their audience and the way in which their audience loves them in return, I think you might just put your money on them as well. As I have pointed out, they are almost on the road somewhere, so keep checking your local establishments as they are sure to show up in the near future. Or you can check them out at to see where they are going to be and I suggest you pick up some of their previous albums to go along with this one. If I were a betting man, I would give you odds that this one is going to be on my Best of 2017 list.

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