Music review and promotion in central Indiana and surrounding areas since 2013
I could tell you for the one hundredth time that we’ve seen a lot of talent in this area. You will likely yawn and tell me that statement is no big surprise. Anyone who's heard a band in Lafayette on any given Saturday could make that same statement. But every once in awhile, you find the extra rare. Almost the anomaly.
It starts in a venue that normally wouldn’t create such a large expectation. The energy builds slowly and unexpectedly into something that you couldn't possibly have imagined the night to contain. Then it falls unashamedly and lovingly like rain onto a primed audience.
We’ve been to Digby’s probably a half dozen times since it opened, and have enjoyed ourselves immensely each time. We love the food, the atmosphere, the people. But we had yet to hear music in that small venue. We did however, enjoy several wonderfully energetic bartenders and servers. Little did we know that one of those cats was a talented musician.
Cue L.D. Miller and an especially talented group of individuals.
I don’t usually do much research on an artist prior to attending their show, so as to remain as unbiased as possible. I’m too easily influenced by genuinely nice and genuinely honest people, however well-meaning they are, to be a complete purist when it comes to music review. As it turns out, avoiding information on Miller is like being a juror in a media trial...once you click around a little bit, you find so much good stuff on him it’s hard to ignore.
It promised to be a great gig when I got a glimpse of the setup. A full sound system, too many instruments to count...a mixing table...all set the mood for excitement and creativity. I was eager to jam a full hour before they got started.
Not only that, but the lead singer also bussed tables right up until mic time. It’s been my experience as a reviewer that it takes more than talent to deliver a quality performance. In this case it was apparently a strong work ethic as well - ;)
Honestly this review had written most of itself during the soundcheck song. Had that been the only song I was privy to it would have spoken on its own. Of course there was more, and it was gravy my friends. The soundcheck set the bar….a standard which they continued to exceed for the remainder of the evening.
When an artist chooses to create, it is equally as important as how they sing or play…they’re sharing with us. And just when you think you know where a blues and rock influenced cover artist is gonna take you musically, they take you somewhere else entirely and you’re glad you rode along.
When a group of musicians are prepared, they will always deliver a better quality sound. When a band who plays together often, as the group with Miller apparently has, they can make the world a better place. But when no one is afraid, when no one lacks courage, in other words when they approach the microphone or the amplifier with an absolute absence of timidity...it becomes a shared creativity that does more than elevate our musical senses. It leaves us with more than we came with. We’re better people. We’re happier people.
Miller and friends did exactly that.
Some pre-emptive video review (non-biased of course) showed a versatile and talented vocalist with a strong tenor type soulful blues feeling in his work. We were pleasantly surprised when the band fell into an entirely different groove from the first song.
It was a cozy set. And by that I don’t mean Miller wooed us with acoustic romance. No, I mean we were up close and personal. The energy feeding energy cycle was completely present. It was a full house, wide range of instruments...these guys came prepared.
L.D. Miller - Lead Vocals and Mixing
Harmonica playing is seldom reviewed here at R.R., but that could be the venues we choose or the choices of bands we see. Nonetheless I’m happy to have heard it. It’s been a minute as they say. I have a life long respect for the harmonica. Always have. It takes pipes to work that puppy. And having recently seen John Popper (Blues Traveler) as a guest musician on the Foo Fighters stage, I have a renewed appreciation for the harmonica being easily the most impressive single instrument when it comes to respiratory stamina. Include a vocal range with that, add some crowd energy and confidence and you’ve found L.D. Miller.
When I classify an artist, I lean on my own experience and understanding of music. I often make an attempt to keep it academic to a point...it is what it is. But with Miller...I had to come up with a new phrase to describe the niche. I liked it and now I think it’s stuck.
Darren Grigsby - Guitar
If you’ve followed me at all, you know I’m a big fan of strong fret work on the guitar. This dude played a solid guitar delivery throughout. At one point I heard guitar note match harmonica note equally and subtly for several minutes, playing off each other in what literally became a jam session with no script.
My absolute favorite kind - :D
Cole Miller - Drums
There is literally only one way for me to gauge a good drummer, and that’s that he or she knows when to restrain, and when not to restrain. Cole knows that. He provided a platform on which the rest of the band could comfortably and confidently get behind, When The Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin; the most sincere measurement of drumming there is in my opinion.
Ryan Fletcher - Flute
Rocked out flute?!? Are you kidding me?!? Who doesn’t love a rocked out flute?
Please tell me my minstrel knaves...that I didn’t miss a Jethro Tull cover???
Scott Pazera - Bass
A deliberate driving bass presence. It was so completely easy to fall into a groove during every single song. Scott settled in with us early on, and carried his own heavy mesh of groove and substance along with him.
Scott Ausherman - Sound
I often judge good sound by more than just the physical. I listen close for the right combination of channels, acoustics in the room, when it gets louder than it should, quieter than it should. This guy made sure all of that was seamless.
What really got me were the breakdowns. You’re taking a journey into another experience within an experience during a breakdown jam. The music is lulling you into a groove that you hope you never wake from. Then it gently calls you back with a bridge transition or a nice build-up. A good sound man monitors all of that and adjusts it accordingly.
Your work was noticed sir...and appreciated.
The whole band gave each song its own unique footprint. I’m still humming a couple covers in my head Miller-style.
I thought I heard original material but have some further research to do before naming them. They were however, clearly influenced by blues and blues rock.
The influences I heard that would have stood on their own without the obvious covers are:
John Lee Hooker
(...and dare I say just a tiny tiny bit of Stevie Ray…?)
Basically a perfect blend of talent and blues signature resulting in smooth workings within and without. They felt it...the crowd felt it.
Well done guys. Well done.
Favorite cover song of the night:
Closer - Nine Inch Nails (best cover I’ve heard in a long while)
A synthful, soulful, sound...badass.
Second favorite cover song of the night:
When The Levee Breaks - Led Zeppelin
This song should only be performed by competent musicians…
And I don’t normally do this but:
Third favorite cover song of the night:
Papa Was A Rollin Stone - The Temptations
And did I hear some Prince in there as well? Talk about soulful funk...Miller does it all. At one point I’m pretty sure I saw his harmonica in one hand, mixing on the board with the other, and I think his elbow was doing something in the midst of the musical ether.
Favorite quote of the night:
“One stick weak, two stick strong” - (paraphrased Bundle of Sticks parable...only I was too drunk to remember the word parable last night) - :D
Second favorite quote of the night:
“The whole band is a beard dude!”
Third favorite quote:
Nine months...and that’s the baby!” (I love you Shelley)
L.D. Miller - Lead Vocals and Mixing
Darren Grigsby on guitar
Scott Pazera on bass
Cole Miller on drums
Ryan Fletcher on flute
Scott Ausherman on sound
When you play without fear, positive energy becomes viral.