This past Sunday I went to Webster’s Bookstore Cafe for the vegan brunch and some music, and it was spot on. The whole crew knows how to nuzzle our community with food and love.
I was there to write about songwriter Dylan Miller, while listening to the shimmering joy of J.T. Thomspon and Andy Tolin’s smooth blues and jazz. Miller recently released his album “Carrion,” is gigging everywhere and anywhere and has built a bit of folklore around himself for what amounts to an already prolific music career in our area.
“I can honestly say I had the time of my life,” Miller said. “The venues, atmospheres and audiences were wonderful and I have received so much support.”
I really dig Miller’s music and his story. We share a bit of a lineage of sorts — both having worked with virtuoso songwriter and Crooked Line brain trust Chris Straight — but Miller is an entity all his own, and he’s working hard at paving his way as a performer who is making important contributions to the regional music scene.
“Dylan is a one of a kind songwriter with a unique and captivating performing style,” Straight said. “I’m proud to have worked with him.”
His current schedule shows the amount of work Miller is putting into his music, and the energy with which he is approaching his music is infectious. He keeps one foot in the present and one foot toward the future, perpetually scanning the musical horizon for the next sunrise of opportunity.
“My next set of tour dates beginning March 12th will be in Maryland in support of Foremost Record’s ‘Anti-Bully Tour,’ ” Miller said. “I have been writing a lot of new material, so I plan to begin recording a new EP before April. I am also currently booking dates for a summer tour kicking off in June. Trying to keep the ball rolling.”
Hailing from Huntington, Miller was drawn to music naturally, and even though his style is steeped in American roots music, his father gave him a much different early musical education that led to Miller initially setting out on a different musical path altogether.
“My father played electric guitar in the popular hair metal band Bashful,” Miller said, “and that whole side of the family is filled with musically inclined people. I really got my first taste of performing live music playing bass in a heavy metal band at 15. Later down the road I found the blues of Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins. That is the music which truly inspired me to become a musician.”
With Johnson, Hooker and Hopkins by his side, Miller is forging ahead. What strikes me most about his approach right now is not only his enthusiasm, but also his vision. He seems to know what he wants, even if it’s only to ride the rails of songwriting and the spirit of Americana, which “Carrion” so clearly portrays.
“I really wanted to experiment on this project,” Miller said. “I knew that Tom ‘Bone’ Edmonds would be the guy I needed turning the nobs to make that happen. Bone is credited as producer, engineer, mixing, mastering and arranger. The EP was a collection of singles written by myself, excluding a blues instrumental co-written by Arti Funaro. The EP also includes the talents of Johnny Steven’s of Mama Corn, Daniel Collins, Junior Tutwiler and Olivia Jones. You can find it for sale on iTunes, Amazon MP3 and streaming on Spotify.”
In the end, however, it’s all about the music, getting inside the sounds, breathing the rhythmic air. Touring aside, marketing aside, sleeplessness, traveling, networking and all other operations aside, the music and the musical experience reigns supreme, as artists who work from the serene pocket of their heart’s golden room attest over and over again.
“I go somewhere else,” Miller said. “That is the only way I can describe it. Somewhere beautiful, where everything seems to flow so smoothly, and for one moment ... nothing else in the whole world matters but the music and those you are sharing it with.”
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.