Usually when writing about musicians, my objective is to target young individuals who seem to be poised for something greater. Having worked with David M. Miller previously, and having conversations with him since, I had a sense of someone who was not slowing down, or felt that the window of opportunity has closed, or anything like that. This was an individual who at 44 years of age is full of positive energy, has great ideas, and absolutely remains relevant in the industry. His latest release, ‘Poisons Sipped’ debuted at #24 on the Roots Music Blues Chart, and is currently being played in 13 countries on 300 radio stations.
David’s roots are in the Southern tier, growing up in hill country of Alleghany County. His musical roots can be traced to his parents and the church. “My folks, they would sing together in the church.” David states. “I was told when I was 4, I sang on my grandfather’s radio show broadcast out of Buffalo, he was a preacher.” His dad also played the guitar. David first played the piano, he then started to play the guitar, and around the same time, the saxophone at school. But it was the guitar which he quickly wanted to spend time on. Performing music was something that interested him also, playing at youth retreats, and to woo young women, the classic motive.
He attended Houghton College, and their music program featured an internship in Nashville, something he took on, and was one of the first in the school to be offered the internship. He got a behind the scenes view of the music business, and decided he didn’t want to be a part of it.
Around ’95, he got together with a group of guys through a church in Cheektowaga, and they called themselves Painted By Moses, a clever name thought up while sitting at Denny’s trying to come up with a name. There was a print there of a piece by Grandma Moses, hence the name. They released 2 ep’s, in what is best described as faith based grunge.
David hosted an open mic in the early 2000s at SPoT Coffee on Delaware in downtown and other venues. At that time, he wanted to “walk the gospel music trek to blues”, as he put it. But he believed a white guy couldn’t pull off blues and roots music. As he put it, “It felt a bit disingenuous at the time. It had to do more with confidence, or maybe ‘this white guy’ couldn’t pull it off”. But working with people like Tommy Z helped bridge paths. His gospel roots also helped him transition to the player and songwriter he would become. His writing would have a gospel core, but he says, “my writing was open more for interpretation. Writing more blues, soul music, that’s what I wanted to play.”
He would go on to form a group called Beautiful Bones, which featured his teenage son Joshua on drums, and his nephew Nick on bass. The band performed for about 4 years, and played regularly at the Lafayette Tap Room, and also opened for Joe Bonamassa at Artpark. The band also featured local r&b players Mike DiSanto and Eric Crittenden at various times. During this time, David also filled in with The Todd Eberwine Band.
As time went on, David’s son and nephew looked to pursue other interests, and Todd’s band was also in flux, they combined elements of both bands, and formed Dive House Union. The name came from the union of both groups, and the history of performing in ‘dive houses’. They would go on to record 2 live albums, ‘Live at Kleinhan’s’, and ‘Live at Aurora Theater”.
Both albums featured all original music. They would also go on to open for a wide range of national blues acts including Gary Clark Jr., Shemekia Copeland, Jimmy Vaughan, Bobby Blue Bland, James Cotton, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Jonny Lang. They went on a tour of the south, which ended with competing in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tn. They made it to the semi finals.
David would branch off to produce a solo album ‘Poisons Sipped’, released in May 2014. Along with the airplay previously mentioned, it has also been reviewed favorably by publications like Vintage Guitar Magazine, and Soul Bag Magazine from France. Many newspapers have reviewed the work including local publications in Rochester and Buffalo.
Through a producer, David would meet The Campbell Brothers, nationally known gospel group from the Rochester area, and they would become the foundation for David’s latest project, Miller And The Other Sinners. The full band would consist of 9 pieces, and have performed regionally. They have aspirations of touring throughout The United States and Europe. Along with the ‘Poisons Sipped’ effort, they are marketing material with the intentions of a major label backing them as they hit the road. A new self produced EP from the Sinners group is expected to be recorded in January. A follow-up solo album is expected to be released this coming summer, produced by Grammy nominated producer, Mike Brown. David will be performing this Saturday, Dec 27 at Dinosaur BBQ on Franklin St in Downtown Buffalo with Dive House Union at the farewell show for Todd Eberwine.
I left our conversation with a sense of a solid spiritual foundation for David. You can hear it in his recordings, in the names of his groups, or just simply in conversation. I suppose it is difficult to separate. The lines are even blurred in relation to music. He tells me, “Whatever spiritual is, music is. Music hits us at our core, a vibration”.
I like what’s ahead for David, he’s surrounded himself with great like minded musicians, great songwriting skills, a strong desire to perform, “The goal is to get on the road more, if you want your music to have a career, you have to get out of Dodge, make it happen”. Hit that road my friend, you are making it happen.