Ramblin’ with the Acoustic Bluesy Tunes of Jacob Miller

25 Oct

Jacob Miller

 When I interviewed Jacob Miller I asked him what I ask every musician that I interview. If you were stuck on an island with only access to three albums what would you choose to listen to for an extended period of time. Miller, a 21-year-old blues/country/ragtime acoustic fingerstyle technician originally from Wisconsin, answered, “Townes Van Zandt’s Flyin’ Shoes, Tift Merritt’s Another Country, and Ton Van Bergeyk’s Lulu’s Back in Town.  And I thought, wow, how diverse and fitting for his cited musical genres. We have Van Zandt’s country croon, Merritt’s twang, and Van Bergeyk’s insane finger-picking guitar skill. “All on vinyl,” he completed his list with a laugh.

Miller is a member of a special breed of modern musician, one who does not do a disservice to his inspirations, but rather carries on the warm tradition of their music. His unique brand of bluegrass and ragtime inspired finger-picking is peaceful and the tunes emit an effortless Nick Drake-like relaxation, but they also are effervescently folksy in the vein of Dave Van Ronk and early Bob Dylan.

“That Same Old Feelin'” is a great song to open Miller’s collection with. This, and 12 other tracks appear on Miller’s debut album Blue Ridge Ramble, a hearty, mature career opener and a great buy. “That Same Old Feelin” encaptures the sunny afternoon, on-the-porch, feel; so acute, you almost feel that you are there sipping a cold beer.

Fittingly, this is exactly what Miller was going for with the album.

“Laid back is definitely the feel I’d like to portray with my music,” Miller said. “The majority of my time West was spent on the porch playing and drinkin’ with friends. The old time style just seems to paint a simple picture; something that’s easy to fall into.”

Miller, who first picked up an acoustic guitar (his aunt’s) when he was 12, moved to Portland, Oregon, at 18, with intentions to pursue music. “I moved into a house of phenomenal folk/blues traveling kids,” Miller said. “I became enthralled with old time, backcountry blues, and bluegrass from the early-mid 20th century. A good friend and housemate of mine, Cliff Mitchell, introduced me to finger-style ragtime and things just seemed to escalate from there.”

Miller continues to put in the time and effort to study the genre and better his ability. That is refreshing. He is only 21 years old and the talent simply oozes from him. Let’s check out another tune from the album.

“Bone Orchard Blues” is my favorite song off of the album. The verse is obviously carried by the creative, repetitive guitar hook that is so reminiscent to traditional blues that it is like someone reincarnated Mississippi John Hurt (whom Miller cites as an inspiration) and put him in the recording studio. Miller does not have Hurt’s deep croon, but his droning, one-tone vocal style fits the depressed blues lyric well. It’s impressive sophistication. And, in the style of his blues inspirations, Miller is currently traveling with no particular destination in mind.

“As far as touring, my plans are ever-changing. I’ve spent this last year traveling around without a clear destination.  But it’s nice, as I seem to stumble upon shows to jump on rolling through the various towns I’ve stayed in. I’m currently in Arizona for another week or two and plan on catching a greyhound to California to stay with some friend for a bit.  I plan to busk some while in San Fran. Afterwards I’ll be making my way back up to Portland to visit some family and play as many bars/venues as I can find.  From there, it’s pretty open-ended.”

To check out and buy Miller’s first release visit his Bandcamp – http://jacobmiller.bandcamp.com/. You can also friend him on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/jacobaaronmiller


5 Responses to “Ramblin’ with the Acoustic Bluesy Tunes of Jacob Miller”

  1. John Phillips October 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Nice stuff. Bone Orchard Blues could be on my ipod, if i could get it on Itunes Canada.

  2. Matt Coleman October 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    I believe you can purchase an mp3 of the song through the bandcamp site provided. That’s actually how I’ve been buying a lot of my music (that is not on iTunes) recently.


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    […] song to open Miller’s collection with. This, and 12 other tracks appear on Miller’s debut album Blue Ridge Ramble, a hearty, mature career opener and a great buy. “That Same Old […]

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