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Blanche Pushes Through Record Company Woes

Of the Oakland Press

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After five years, Detroit's Blanche has become a band that can write a primer on the music business.

The noir country quintet lost its U.S. record deal last year when its label, V2 Records, closed its doors while Blanche was making its second full-length album, "Little Amber Bottles." The album comes out Tuesday on the new independent Original Signal, but its status in Europe, where "Little Amber Bottles" was released in June, is in question since that label has announced plans to close as well.

"It's a hard time to figure out the music business, I guess," frontman Dan John Miller says with a laugh. Nevertheless, he says that "it's exciting just to get the album out" at home and have Blanche fans hear the growth in the band since 2004's "If We Can't Trust the Doctors," with some particularly notable contributions from "Little" Jack Lawrence, the Greenhornes/Raconteurs bassist who contributed a couple of songs to the new album.

"We're more confident musicians at this point, as opposed to the first album," notes Miller, 42, who resides in Oak Park with his wife, Blanche bassist Tracee Mae Miller. "I think this album isn't as tentative a the first album."

And while Miller says he "really liked that tentativeness, because that's where we were as a band back then," he feels "Little Amber Bottles," which was recorded in Nashville and at Blanche pedal steel player Dave Feeny's Tempermill studio in Ferndale, "is a good revelation of where we are now and were when we recorded it. We were feeling more confident, and you can hear that, I think."

Where Blanche goes from here has more to do with just the vagaries of the music business, however. Besides Lawrence's other commitments and Feeny's production schedule, Miller, who played guitarist Luther Perkins in the Johnny Cash film biography "Walk the Line," is continuing to pursue his acting career; he recently filmed a role in George Clooney's "Leatherheads," which comes out next year. Tracee Mae, meanwhile, is also a visual artist and volunteers at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac.

"I think one surefire way to give it your best shot is to tour all the time," says Miller, "but that's something we just aren't up for 'cause everyone has other stuff going on. I think we'll always keep making records, and we might just be one of those fringey, culty bands that's just...around and working when it can."

Blanche celebrates the U.S. release of "Little Amber Bottles" tonight at the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. The Gypsy Strings of Detroit and Sister Lucas will also perform. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.

Web Site: www.thecrofoot.com

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