Back in the olden days (90-1,000 years ago), a poor man’s yearning to make music was so spirited that he would put his everyday humble house-wares to use, to construct an instrument on which he could express himself thoroughly. Using a washboard, a washtub, a pair of spoons, and a jug, he’d conjure up the sounds of their voices and have himself a band. The heart of such a musician is unstoppable, passionate, inspiring, and true.
The Ben Miller Band has learned a thing or two from those pioneers of music. Although back in those days, these instruments were crafted due to lack of funds to buy “real” instruments, I don’t think that was the inspiration behind the Ben Miller Band. What some of us see as an old dirty laundry cleaner that wound up in an antique store, to these guys, is an instrument of art.
Ben Miller has found an interesting voice through the rotary dial 1960’s telephone he sometimes uses as a microphone, all the while playing slide guitar, harmonica, and foot percussion. He exudes that fervent passion, like that of his forerunners. Ingenious, poetic, skilled…a true artist.
Then there’s Scott Leeper, who put some weed-eater string on a stick, attached it to an old washtub and electrified it. Some of us believe he’s the best washtub bass player on the planet, and he just may be.
This band was a trio up until several months ago, performing around the United States and Europe constantly... until one day founding member Doug Dicherry felt a different calling and left the band to pursue a solo career.
Booked well into 2017, complete with national, continental and at least two European tours, Ben and Scott faced a major issue: break up the band or find a musician magical enough to somehow fill Doug's colorful shoes.
About the same time, their old friends Smilin' Bob Lewis and Rachel Ammons, aka Tyrannosaurus Chicken, were wearing themselves out working throughout the country, making music from the Gulf of Mexico to Chicago.
Out of the blue, Ben ran into his old friend Bob and officially asked Tyrannosaurus Chicken to join the band... not only as Doug's replacement, but as a completely new dimension to the Ben Miller Band... or rather two new dimensions.
The tours were saved and the label contracts fulfilled, and the all new Ben Miller Band not only continued, but grew exponentially into a much bigger and bolder band.
Since they had made music together for years, both bands already knew each other's material too, making the transition an easy one. A musical marriage made in Heaven!
Things worked out quickly, too, because two weeks after the deal was made, they toured though out the United States and Canada. Then they were home for less than a week and they left to open for ZZ Top for a several-month tour throughout Europe.
The band has been back in the states for two weeks, and they are leaving again tomorrow for another European tour, this time as the headliners.
Plans after this trip are to go into a Nashville studio and cut a new album, of course, this time with both Bob and Rachel adding their incredible musicianship to the work, especially with Rachel's violin and fiddle, and Bob's artful banjo and guitar work.
Some call the music Ozark Stomp, an appropriate moniker if there ever was one.
There are a number of elements that create the unique and signature sound of the Ben Miller Band. One of the most powerful is the wide range of instrumentation, that just four individuals are masters of. Many of these instruments are homemade, rescued from flea markets, thrift stores, and junk yards, fashioned into Frankensteins of melody. Traditional Bluegrass/Folk instruments have been electrified and bastardized by effects pedals, creating a feast of modern sound with antique personality... like grandpa hillbilly on LSD...