Scott Miller

Scott Miller
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Feisty, funny singer/guitar-slinger Scott Miller is not a simple study. Raised on a cattle farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where he expects to return before too long, he writes songs full of rural imagery, and his trademark is the mule. But he also has a degree in Russian and Soviet Studies from William & Mary and can write a rock song with the best of them. Miller is not much like anybody else we know of. Fiercely independent, he has added graphic artist/fundraiser and entrepreneur to his well-established achievements of singer/songwriter/ace picker/bandleader. He started this latest release, For Crying Out Loud, by demoing up a fresh batch of songs on his trusty old Marantz hard-disc recorder. Then he had the nutty idea of pressing a thousand CDs and creating a different piece of handmade cover art for each one (“I had nothin’ better to do,” he points out). He called it the Appalachian Refugee Demos. Scott’s wife thought he was out of his mind until he made the discs available on his website for 20 bucks apiece and quickly sold every one of them. He then used the 20 grand to pay for the recording of For Crying Out Loud. The Knoxville-based artist gathered his band the Commonwealth — drummer Shawn McWilliams, guitarist Jeremy Pennebaker and bass player Chris Autry — and renowned Nashville producer Mike Webb to execute another oddball idea: he’d have the guys play to the guitar and vocal performances on his demos, building them into full-on band tracks. The ultimate wisdom of this wild notion can be found in the smokin’ grooves of the record you now have in your hands. Unlike some of his earlier recordings, this album has no overarching theme in Miller’s mind, although it clearly possesses a prevailing character and gritty, hard-earned spirit. It’s jammed full of scrappy, defiant rockers, interspersed with tender tunes suffused with the quiet joys of home and hearth. The pummeling, power-chord driven opener “Cheap Ain't Cheap (For Crying Out Loud)” is a shout-along anthem for the legions of newly unemployed. Miller had a hunch that the blackly (and bleakly) humorous song “would be a great soundtrack for the (then) impending economic meltdown which I had predicted years ago but wasn’t smart enough to do anything about — like buy stock in cardboard boxes that people use to put their desk junk in when they lose their jobs. Now the record’s coming out, and I’m pretty sure we still haven’t seen the bottom yet.” “Let You Down,” co-written with Doug Lancio (who produced two of the tracks on For Crying Out Loud) is an exercise in brutal self-awareness that applies to every man at some point. (They also teamed up for the eerie sounding “Double Indemnity,” a tale based on the actual murder case that inspired Billy Wilder's classic film.) The Cajun-spiced torque of “Claire Marie” channels the very essence of seminal rock and roll, and then there’s the wicked-clever “Sin in Indiana,” its characters — Henry Streator, Chalmers Wolcott and Magnolia Hempstead — named after exit signs Miller had spotted and dutifully jotted down while touring the Midwest with his band. The record’s gentle side is represented by the gorgeous “I’m Right Here, My Love,” a ballad on which he’s joined by Patty Griffin. “The thing I like about working with Patty is that we got along great before we’d even heard each other’s music,” Scott marvels. “We also grew up in the same home town, except mine was in Virginia and hers was in Maine.” For Crying Out Loud is so bursting with life that it’s shocking to discover the circumstances surrounding the creative process that led to it. “My wife’s father was dying here in a Knoxville hospital while I wrote a lot of this,” he recently typed on one of the many vintage typewriters he collects. “It took three weeks. I would get up around 5 or 6 and take my mother-in-law into the hospital to sit by him, go to the commissary and get her a waffle, then drive to my writing room and write for a couple hours before going back to relieve whoever was there with him, sometimes all night. Anyone who’s been through long-term and/or terminal illness (I have seen more than my fair share) knows your sleep patterns get weird; hospitals are lit all the time, so your days get confused." “So I wouldn’t say the record is about that experience,” he further explained, “but its influence is felt just in the sense that the lyrics are not as concrete and A-to-B as I usually strive for in my songs. Exhaustion, the natural high. I wrote three pages every day, even if it didn’t make sense or rhyme. I just made sure I filled three pages. Then I went back and started picking things out. When I finally wrote “Sin in Indiana,” I was on a roll. “Appalachian Refugee,” “Sin in Indiana” and even “Double Indemnity” came out in a day.” “Now, it’s a bigger band record than I’ve made,” he says. “But these songs still hold up performed solo, which is the ultimate goal anyway, right? I mean besides radio play, big times and Cadillacs.” Webb’s expertise was a key in pulling off the unconventional project. “Mike has been a good friend and supporter for a long time,” says Scott. “Maybe it’s because he’s a fellow Commonwealthian (he's from Kentucky) and Appalachian, but he really gets what I do — even when I don’t.” After For Crying Out Loud was finished to Miller’s satisfaction, he was persuaded by those closest to him to add one more song: the intimate demo of “Appalachian Refugee,” which he’d written in tribute to the life of his father-in-law. It now closes the album on a heart-wrenching but life-affirming note. Miller's backstory is well documented: unlike most of what he considers the faux-simplified-effete-elite-Americana/alt-country world, Miller was actually raised on a working farm. His parents were a WWII generation couple that carried on the Spartan lifestyle of their Scots-Irish forefathers. Miller has described said lifestyle as “Amish that drink.” In 1990, armed with his prestigious but ultimately useless degree (“The Soviet Union collapsed when I graduated — I don't take any credit, though"), Miller moved to Knoxville, where he started scraping out a living playing local bars and clubs. The owner of a now-defunct bar called Hawkeye’s quickly recognized Miller’s homespun appeal and gave him a regular night, and he proceeded to build a loyal legion of fans. The marquee outside said “Scott Miller: Every Damn Friday” for four long years. Meanwhile, Miller began touring regionally and his following grew accordingly. The next phase found him a member of Knoxville roots-rock unit the V-Roys, the first band signed to E-Squared, an indie label founded by the late Jack Emerson and Steve Earle. He then signed with Sugar Hill, for which he recorded three studio albums and a live record with the Commonwealth. During this time, Miller and his band landed a TV gig on Jeff Foxworthy’s Blue Collar TV show on the WB Network. “Suddenly, the band and I didn’t have to load up and travel every night,” he recalls. “We could walk across from the theater where it was taped into a five-star hotel bar, and make great money doing it. I hated it, of course.” And now comes this fiercely individualistic phase of the veteran artist’s career. “Owning your own record company is not as glamorous as the olden days,” he notes, “but with more money I can buy me some glamorous shit. But seriously, owning this record is not about making more money — it’s about keeping more money.” There may not be gold at the end of Miller’s rainbow, but he’s already accumulated a ton of satisfaction, and with that, like Smokey said, he’s got all the riches, baby, one man can claim.
Date Venue City State Note
No Tour Dates Available
11/06/2009 - Rock Picks - Read More
07/24/2009 - Scott Miller wants to be heard - live - Read More
04/23/2009 - NO TEARS HERE: Scott Miller doing just fine on his own with new album and a 'She - Read More
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Average Rating : 5              Total Reviews: 12

Scott Miller  05/07/2009            
Heiko Wester, Netherlands.
This one is another pearl in my collection!! Really nice music to listen to. Every track has it's own charme. 'For Crying Out Loud', makes me happy!
Scott Miller  07/01/2007            
I picked up this album after listening to bits & pieces of it on I can honestly say my money was well spent, this guy really pushes the envelope. A combination of great lyrics and badass guitar playing, this album is not coming out of my cd player anytime soon.
Scott Miller  06/08/2007            
Without a doubt one of my favorite cd's this year! I cant get enough of "eight miles a gallon","freedom's a stranger" and "drunk all around this town". If you have yet to see Scott live, pick up this record and i promise you it will hold you over until you make it out to see him (which is always a good time)!
Scott Miller  05/17/2006            
I saw Scott for the first time last night at Mucky Duck in Houston- this guy has the ULTIMATE acoustic show. His vocal talents are matched only by his amazing guitar playing, and the lyrics of his songs could give anyone goosebumps! I'm a new fan, but I'll certainly be a long time fan now!!
Scott Miller  03/20/2006            
Another great album from a band that has shot to the top of the list of my favorites. Scott Miller and the Commonwealth go from bluegrass to rock to traditional folk and never seem to miss a beat. This album seems to highlight Scott's vocal talents moreso than the last 2 studio albums which is definitely a great idea. Don't worry the music is still great. A must have for true fans of music.
Scott Miller  09/05/2005            
Scott Miller  03/07/2005            
Texas Real Deal
There are a few Artist that stand out. Scott Miller is one of those. Buy anything and everything he does.
Scott Miller  12/20/2004            
kevin carmony
I cant wait to get back from Iraq and let my wife listen to this cd. Scott Miller is so good. If you want to be a bad ass and impress all your friends who think they own all the great cds out there then buy this cd. Unlike the new pat green sellout cd, you cant just listen to this one once. Ive had it in the cd player for a week and a half and i havent done that since REK #2 live dinner. A new name has been added to the list of favorites. Kick ass cd Scott Miller.
Scott Miller  12/20/2004            
kevin carmony
I had heard some of this guys stuff on underground radio before and thought he was ok but i got the chance to see him open for Charley at gruene around memorial day and he blew me and my wife away. I got deployed to iraq the next day so i had to have his cds shipped over and it was worth it. this guy is so great and i cant beleive i dont hear more about him.
Scott Miller  11/07/2003            
I was at a record shop in dallas and scott miller was there by himself playing acustic, hands down the greatest solo performance i have ever seen. this is a great cd. he does a great job of mixing folk and rock. he is one of the best singer song writer out there.
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