Ben Miller Band returns to Europe for extensive tour in March / April03-10-2019
A lot has been going on with Ben Miller Band. Not too long ago the sad news of Smilin' Bob Lewis' passing came to us. Things have been crazy since he was diagnosed with cancer last year. Ben Miller Band strengthens themselves with the idea that Smilin' Bob Lewis would have wished for the band to continue what they do best: tour. In March and April 2020 Ben Miller Band will return to Europe in the new set up, going back to the original three piece style with a new drummer/washboard player: Mitch Twombley.
13/03: Hamburg, DE - Sound Yard
14/03: Odense, DK - Dexter
15/03: Altlandsberg, DE - The Buchholz Saloon
20/03: Bielefeld, DE - Extra Blues Bar
21/03: Dortmund, DE - Blue Notez Club
22/03: Düsseldorf, DE - The Pitcher
24/03: Ittre, BE - Zik Zak
25/03: Puurs, BE - TBA
26/03: Eppstein, DE - Wunderbar
27/03: Olten, CH - Schützi Olten
28/03: Ferrara, IT - Circolo Blackstar
30/03: Barberaz, FR - Le Brin de Zinc
01/04: Barcelona, ESP - Rocksound
02/04: Valencia, ESP - Loco Club
03/04: Zaragoza, ESP - Rock & Blues
04/04: Madrid, ESP - Wurlitzer Ballroom
05/04: Bilbao, ESP - Kafe Antzokia
08/04: Breda, NL - Mezz
09/04: Hengelo, NL - Metropool
10/04: Arnhem, NL - Luxor Live
12/04: Amsterdam, NL - Bitterzoet
"I like the idea of saying something very complicated in a very simple way," Ben Miller stated. "That's what we strive for musically, and what I strive for lyrically - to get directly to the point."
Getting to the point is something that the Ben Miller Band does consistently on Choke Cherry Tree, the Joplin, Missouri-bred combo's third album and second New West release. The consistently compelling set offers 11 new examples of Miller's deceptively unpretentious songcraft, beneath whose ramshackle exterior lurks sturdy, infectious melodies and resonant, emotionally insightful lyrics. Miller and company recorded Choke Cherry Tree with producer Chris Funk, a member of the Decemberists whose multi-instrumental abilities helped to expand the band's sonic options, as did his interest in using such guest players as Jenny Conlee and Nate Query (also of The Decemberists), renowned saxophonist Ralph Carney (Tom Waits, Tin Huey), Dan Hunt of Neko Case’s band, Ural Thomas, Rev Shines of Lifesavas, and more. “Chris has a lot of musician friends,” Miller notes, “so if we needed an accordion player, he’d just call one.”
While Choke Cherry Tree maintains the rough-and-ready vibe of the band's prior releases, the new material also features some of the most carefully-crafted arrangements that Miller and company have ever had. "This time around," Miller explains, "I did more demos than usual, and really hashed out the songs at home, which gave me and Chris a really good starting point to work the songs. It was the opposite of just jumping in and playing and trying to capture it on the mics. Even though there was more collaboration with other people on this album, it's probably the least compromised album I've ever made."
Since its formation in 2004, the Ben Miller Band has staked out an iconoclastic niche that's established them as both a one-of-a-kind creative unit and a grass-roots fan favorite. Channeling a century's worth of far-flung American musical influences into rousing songcraft that radiates with smarts and soul, Miller's tunes achieve a musical and emotional depth that belies the material's (and the musicians') rough exterior. The hard-working unit first won a regional fan base through old-fashioned ingenuity and an unstinting work ethic, generating a national buzz and a high-profile 2013 tour of Europe with ZZ Top, thanks to the patronage of avowed BMB fan Billy Gibbons.
The Ben Miller Band's early D.I.Y. approach extended to the lo-tech, largely self-built, instruments that the members still play on stage, including Miller's thrift-shop guitars and banjos and Scott Leeper's one-string washtub bass. The band's use of offbeat instrumentation, however, shouldn't be misunderstood as a gimmick. Growing up in rural Curlew, Washington, Ben Miller began playing guitar at 16, turning his back on a promising career as a visual artist to focus on music. He gained experience busking and performing in open-mike nights while road-tripping around America, and during an extended stint in Eastern Europe. He eventually found kindred spirits in Scott Leeper and original BMB drummer Doug Dicharry.