Interview with Buffalo-based David Michael Miller - anchored deeply in a roots gospel, blues & soul foundation

"I believe that Blues music reached people at their core. I know it does for me. It can simply and easily connect in such a deep and intimate way without judgment that you can’t help but be devoted."

David Michael Miller: Roots Foundation

David Michael Miller, Buffalo-based singer/songwriter, has his roots deep in the church and gospel music. His music is anchored deeply in a roots gospel, blues and soul foundation. He fronted several bands as lead singer and primary songwriter, getting airplay all around the country in college markets and gospel stations with previous projects. After a hiatus from music, in 2005 he launched back into the local scene and inspired by professional artists such as Tommy Z, he carried his gospel roots into the nationally known blues and soul scene.

This led him to the last 3+ years with Dive House Union (DHU) as lead singer, primary songwriter and secondary guitarist. Dive House Union has shared the stage with such greats as Gary Clark Jr, Bobby Blue Bland, Jonny Lang, Jimmie Vaughan, Shemekia Copeland, Joe Bonamassa, and many more. They also represented Western New York in Memphis, for the International Blues Competition in early 2013. DHU has released two live albums recorded locally at iconic rooms, Kleinhans Music Hall and The Aurora Theater. Recently, David has partnered with local producer Jesse Miller for a couple of solo albums. The first of which, “The Poison’s I’ve Sipped,” to be released in December of 2013 and a gospel album to follow in 2014. He competed this past September in the local Memphis Bound competition with his son, Joshua Miller, and won the privilege of representing Western New York again in Memphis January 2014. In recording his solo album, he was introduced to the world famous Campbell Brothers and there was an instant connection. 

Interview by Michael Limnios

How do you describe your sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?

I am influenced by all forms of American Root music, so my songs and sound reflect mostly a strong soul/gospel base that I take into different directions. I like to listen and write music that sounds familiar, but has some twist in it, melodically, rhythmically and lyrically.

Which is the most interesting period in your life? Which was the best and worst moment of your career?

The most interesting period in my life is that last few years, overcoming some lifelong struggles and throwing myself at the music god’s mercy. The best moment in my career is always the “now”.

Why did you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following?

I believe that Blues music reached people at their core. I know it does for me. It can simply and easily connect in such a deep and intimate way without judgment that you can’t help but be devoted.

"I am influenced by all forms of American Root music, so my songs and sound reflect mostly a strong soul/gospel base that I take into different directions. I like to listen and write music that sounds familiar, but has some twist in it, melodically, rhythmically and lyrically."

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

Meeting my wife in kindergarten was the most profound meeting I never planned for sure. She’s my best friend and love of my life and our journey together though far from easy has been the most important. The best advice ever given me was to “hold on to things loosely”. I’ll let you all work that one out for yourselves.

What’s the best jam you ever played in? What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?

I have another band project called, Dive House Union and we throw down simply amazing jams. Nearly every other gig seems to offer up a new level so its really hard to say. I know that when we recorded our Live at Kleinhans Music Hall album, that night though early in our career together was magical. My latest however was with members of The Campbell Brothers at a Residency series of rehearsals we were doing in Buffalo, NY where I had both sax players I’m working with (Jay Moynihan – formerly with Buddy Guy and Barry Arbogast with Dive House Union) together for the first time. These two guys were trading 4’s, making up lines on the spot and the entire band rose with them. It was unreal. As far as most memorable gigs, I once opened for Joe Bonamassa at Artpark several years ago with my son on percussion and between that stage, Joe’s kindness and playing music with my son for several thousand people, it was pretty incredible. My other big one would be a house party that I did for 30+ people in the hills of Western New York on a snowy winter evening. I loved sharing my songs in such an intimate setting, eating together and hanging out. Loved it.

"Well I’d say that Gospel preceeds Soul, but the root of it all is the expression of our longing whether for God, Salvation, Freedom, Love, Suffering, Her, Him, Death etc.. The styles of Blues, Gospel, Soul and Rock are varied but the thread is content and feeling versus form in my opinion." (Photo: David Michel Miller with Jasmine Neeley, Ashley Nicole & Darick Campbell)

Are there any memories from recording time which you’d like to share with us?

Easy... When we brought the 3 girls in to sing backup for the first time, we worked on Memphis Belle off of my new album, Poisons Sipped. When Serena Young, Jasmine Neeley and Ashley Nicole Brown started instantly harmonizing on the chorus, my hair stood on end and I had goosebumps. It was perfect.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I don’t miss anything. I hear it in everything. In the same way I have no fears or hopes really since the blues can never die because of its very nature.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Musicians could find it a little easier to earn a decent wage making their art.

Which memory from David Allen Coe  makes you smile?

Well, the David Allen Coe gig gives me a chuckle because of the sheer number of biker body guards keeping everyone, including us as the opener, far away from Mr. Coe. Interesting stuff.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Soul and continue to Gospel and Rock music?

Well I’d say that Gospel preceeds Soul, but the root of it all is the expression of our longing whether for God, Salvation, Freedom, Love, Suffering, Her, Him, Death etc.. The styles of Blues, Gospel, Soul and Rock are varied but the thread is content and feeling versus form in my opinion.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

I’m good here and now.

David Michael Miller - official website

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