Dave Miller: Guitarist

Creator of music & baker of goods…

Archive for the month “May, 2010”


If you’ve ever fed me a few beers and we’ve had an in-depth discussion about music, I’ve probably brought up the subject of language.  If you’ve ever been in one of these conversations with me, you’re probably tired of hearing about it at this point, so I’m providing you the option of throwing in towel on this post right now!  If not, read on, o brave soul, and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, too.

As a side note, it’s 9am on this lovely friday morning and I’m sober as a f-ing fox!

Quite possibly, the most important goal to be achieved when performing or recording music is communication.  I think we, as musicians, can unanimously agree that we have the most fun when performing in front of a relatively large audience that is fully engaged in the proceedings.  The connection that happens between band/audience occurs when the musicians are willing to give themselves to the music, and when the members of the audience are willing (and ready) to accept this offering.

A good performance or recording of music is heard like a good book is read.  There is a beginning, middle, and end, and there are guideposts along the way.  This is all the language of music.  The best authors and musicians utilize subtlety of language to deepen the effect of their work.  For me, satisfaction often comes in these subtle details.

I was listening to the new Dr. Dog album, “Shame, Shame”, while driving through traffic yesterday and I realized why I like them so much.  In addition to being great songwriters, much of the beauty lies in the details.  There is so much language in their music.  The fact that much of their production esthetic is lifted from The Beatles almost contributes more to the effectiveness of their music.  Dr. Dog definitely has their own thing, but it’s also obvious they’ve done their homework.  It’s this blend of innovation and tradition that makes their music so effective.

I felt the same way when I recently listened to George Lewis’ “Solo Trombone Record”.  What an incredibly deep musician!  “Phenomenology”, in particular, floors me.  It sounds like the history of jazz up to 1976 in eight minutes.  It has so much language, so many guideposts; it is so compositional, yet so very satisfyingly abstract.  The whole album is incredible and worth anyone’s ears.

It’s the language that these musicians use that communicates artistic depth.  Language is obviously not the only aspect a musician needs to excel in to effectively communicate, but is often the most overlooked.  I love music that gives you something to chew on (the language part) and takes you to a completely different place with it (the innovation part).  If either of these aspects is missing, the music tends to not be as effective.

Have a great memorial day weekend!

Algernon “Everybody Stay Calm” live in Baltimore

Here is a video (1 of 3 which I’ll be posting over the next few days) of Algernon playing “Everybody Stay Calm” from Ghost Surveillance at the Orion in Baltimore, MD:

The video was beautifully shot by Fred Showacre from Red Button (yes, that’s right ;)) Productions.

The gig at Orion was, for many reasons, one of the best stops of the tour.  Cuneiform’s offices are just outside of town, so there was a big label presence.  Everyone who works there is extremely kind (thanks Steve, Joyce, Javier, and interns whose names escape me right now!).  Mike (who mixed sound on the video), sound engineer at Orion and also all around cool dude, was there to meet us for soundcheck with a fridge full of all kinds of incredible beers!

Orion Sound Studios has a really special thing going on–in addition to being a rehearsal space and recording studio, they have a live music series every saturday that has a devoted fanbase.  Many people had heard our music before and were very excited to have us there.  Did I mention that everyone brings food as well?  It was just one of those gigs where you feel extremely welcomed and appreciated.  Ergo, from Brooklyn, played a strangely beautiful set to open up the evening.  Algernon did about 3 or 4 shows on the tour with Ergo and they were some of the best nights!  Those guys are great fun and wonderful musicians.  Can’t say enough good things…

Algernon’s set went nicely, as we were already five dates into the tour, so the music we evolving very organically by this point.

After the gig we did some customary hanging, this time to unsuccessfully attempt to finish all the delicious microbrews in the fridge.  We spent the night (very comfortably, I might add) at Steve and Joyce’s from Cuneiform and woke up the next morning to a freshly cooked breakfast, coffee, and OJ (the best feeling when on the road!).  And, oh yeah, we didn’t have a gig that day and were just going to spend it in Philly with our good friend and fantastic flautist, Jenny Swanson.  However, Steve received a call that morning from the organizer of the Silver Spring, MD Amnesty International Festival begging Steve to find a band to fill the recently vacant afternoon slot.  Steve’s response: “As a matter of fact, I have a band drinking coffee in my living room as we speak!”  Hooray for unexpected gigs on days off.  The festival was actually taking place only a mile away from Steve’s house.

We left Maryland with smiling faces and headed up the east coast.  It is those unexpected beautiful experiences that redeem all the harshness the road can sometimes bring.

Time to get this going!

Hey all,

I just arrived back in Chicago a few weeks ago from Algernon’s spring tour in support of our new release on Cuneiform Records called “Ghost Surveillance”.  The tour was grueling, but musically fantastic!  The music opened up in so many ways I never imagined.  That being said, it’s good to be home.

Anyways, here I am, back in Chicago, with not much in the books to speak of and looking for something new to try out.  Enter: wordpress!  Here, you’ll find me blogging about upcoming gigs/projects/recording sessions, music I’m enjoying at the moment, books, movies, food, beer/wine, and maybe just life in general!

Thanks for reading and come back soon!


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