Opening artist for American Made Series knows his History
The American Made weekend begins Friday evening at Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs with an artist who could not be more fitting for the role. Until four years ago, Scott Miller, singer/songwiter and Swoope farmer had been touring constantly and playing to large crowds around the country. He and his wife Thea, live in Staunton. When asked what a small, pretty local crowd could expect to hear at this concert, Miller replied,
“It’s me, my songs, which are rooted a lot in here, Appalachia, and Bath and Highland and Augusta, and what I know. I write what I know. I’m with Bryn Davies; she’s like an A-list bass player. I’m lucky to be playing with her, but she’s plays with Tony Rice, and other ‘hot players’. So it’s just her and me. It’s a full sound.
And who especially will enjoy his music?
“Hopefully anybody that cares about songs and lyrics, so that’s my thing.”
Scott is inspired by history, in this case the Civil War, but doesn’t limit himself to that. He comfortably incorporates stories handed down to him into his songs. Some of those stories are from quite close to home for the rest of us as well.
“My great great grandfather was a, William Rivercomb, and he and his four brothers fought in Bath County, in the cavalry there, and two of them came back. His fiancée at the time, and whom he married, Great Great Granmother, her brother, he went with them, and he died in the war. But, I have all their letters, like you know we’re Virginians. We keep all the Stuff, that’s what we do. So I read those letters as a kid, and slept in his blanket roll, just the whole thing.
“I used those letters in a number of songs, a song called ‘Dear Sarah’, and ‘Highland County Boy’, a song called “The Rain” about the battle at Spotsylvania Courthouse. There’s just all sorts of that kind of stuff.”
Just browsing several songs and videos of Miller’s, on his website introduces his wide range of content and style. Bluegrass Underground called him a “neotraditionalist”; others call him “genuine” and “real”; but history is a common thread. That strong sense of family and regional history can be a mixed blessing for a younger generation who is trying to figure out where they fit into the long line of characters and events.
“I always tell people, if you grew up in Virginia, that’s sort of shoved down your throat.”
“As far as songwriting, I like songs that sort of go from a point A to a point B, and tell a story, and then you try to evoke an emotion out of there, or find something in common with it, and history is a really useful tool for me in songwriting.”
So whether you are a Garth Newel regular, or a first-timer like Scott, plan to enjoy some exceptional American Made music, and do some listening and laughing too. The show begins at 7:00, but you can come as early as 6:00 for drinks, a boxed dinner, and your choice of seats.
If Friday evening doesn’t work for you, the Boxcars play Saturday at 5PM, and The American Heritage Trio, plays Sunday at 1:00.
Visit garthnewel.org for more information.