Ben Miller planned to be a visual artist when he left his home in Washington State to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts. But he was also a "closet musician" whose turned that into his vocation after traveling around Europe on a scholarship for art studies.
"When I got back I felt like there was no way I'm going to be in a classroom for another year," recalls Miller, 35, whose Ben Miller Band recently released its second album of gritty Americana, "Any Way Shape or Form. "So I called up an old buddy of mine; he was traveling across the country, so I told him I'd buy into the van and we traveled for about a year, pretty intensely playing music together.
"That was a lot of fun, and from there it was slow but steady, figuring out how to imitate the music I'd been listening to, Delta blues and mountain music. I liked that while in art you do something once and it's done and you move on to the next thing; music is a repeatable form, so you write a song and you can play it forever."
Miller and his trio are based in Joplin, Mo., where the three musicians have invented some of the instruments they play. Among its fans is ZZ Top, which has taken the Ben Miller Band on the road and put it in front of the ears of larger crowds and more mainstream rock fans.
"It's been incredible. i can't say enough nice things about those guys," Miller gushes. "I don't have words to express how just like family those guys have treated us. There's no egos. We hung out with them on tour and talked with them about music and stuff, road stories.
"For someone like me and a band like our band, really the only thing we need is people's (bottoms) in the seats. We need to have people in front of us, and we can take it from there. (ZZ Top) provided that, and we owe them for that."
Ben Miller Band
Friday, Aug. 1. Doors open at 8 p.m.
The Pike Room in the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac
Tickets are $10
Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com
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