Sam's Burger Joint Presents:
Thu, May 11, 2017
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pmSam's Burger Joint
$12.00 - $45.00
This event is 18 and over
Seating NOT GUARANTEED. Any Seating Available is on a First Come, First Served Basis. NO REFUNDS all sales final.
All Minors Will Be Charged an Additional $5 At the Door. 17 & Under Admitted with Parent or Guardian Only. - $12 Advance/ $15 Day of Show/ $45 Reserved Booth
The last few years have seen big changes for Miller. He left his long-time adopted home city of Knoxville, TN to return to the family farm to tend a herd of beef cattle, look after his elderly parents and set up a new touring base from his hometown of Staunton, VA. During this time of transition and scaled down touring, Miller teamed up with old-time fiddle maven Rayna Gellert adding another sonic layer to his repertoire. The two released a mini-ablum titled "Co-Dependents" and continue to tour together and collaborate often.
For his newest cd, "Big Big World," Miller tapped Nashville guitarist and producer Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt). Miller's avid fans will realize the title phrase points to the artist's new musical horizons, stretching beyond any of his previous works and reflecting his significant growth as a songwriter.
Miller's writing is informed and fueled by his connection to his family land in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. He truly is the sum of his 'Southern place': rural imagery, sin and salvation, defiant, rebellious, pathos and humor. He is currently working on new music, stepping up his touring with the Commonwealth's Ladies Auxiliary (Rayna Gellert and Bryn Davies) and finding a way to merge his life on the farm with his songwriting. "History is my jam", states Miller. "The story is already there and all you need to do is find some connection with it and try to connect that to the listener."
Miller recently collaborated with filmmaker James Weems (Jason Isbell) and photographer Glen Rose to produce the mini-documentary "Goin' Home" which explores Miller's personal and musical journey since returning to the family farm..
It's all part of a grand plan – one methodically designed by Whitmore – from album cover, to album content. The songs concern themselves with the slow disintegration of a relationship, and the album's title – Embers to Ashes – is meant to represent that story's painful arc – from the first fires of young passion to the scorched ruin of heartbreak. As a killer, Whitmore's the last you'd suspect: Embers to Ashes is full of sly, spry country music, whiskey-soaked songs that recall prime Loretta Lynn and early Neko Case and, in their more uptempo moments, Miranda Lambert at her rowdiest. But be warned: those revelers carry daggers, and there's a bit of arsenic in that glass of cherry wine. As Whitmore herself puts it, "Nothing says 'go to hell' better than an uptempo, catchy song!"
Whitmore learned her way around country music early, touring at the ripe old age of 8 with her parents and her sister in a traveling roadshow cheekily titled "Daddy & the Divas." "Basically, my dad had children so he could have a band," she jokes. "He really wanted a bass player, so I learned how to play bass. My sister played the violin."
Whitmore's father has a pilot's license – an accomplishment Whitmore herself would later achieve – so he'd fly the family to their gigs at remote Texas bars and overcrowded fall festivals. And though they were a family act, Bonnie often stole the show: "As a little girl with a big voice singing 'Gold Dust Woman,' a lot of times I'd get the biggest applause."
As much as she loved playing with her family, the older she got, the more she wanted to strike out on her own. "I started to realize that I loved playing music," she says. "So when I was 16 I started writing my own songs." As her teen years progressed, Whitmore began working as a session player with other local musicians, while still continuing to perform with her family from time to time. For her first proper statement as a solo artist, she wanted to do something conceptual – something that told a story from beginning to end.
"I wanted to set up the album so it's: 'Boy meets girl, they breakup, but then there's the kind of postscript. At the end of the album, you have to deal with the lingering memory of that lost love."
Whitmore realized that vision to a striking degree. The title track is the kind of rough-and-tumble country song that would do Kathleen Edwards proud, but its rollicking rhythms conceal a sinister message: "Well, the preacher said until death do us part/ so you're gonna have to pay for this broken heart." "Tin Man" barrels forward like vintage Liz Phair, Whitmore using the classic Wizard of Oz character to pillory a heartless ex. Its lyric is built on a sly double-entendre: "Replaced by a girl named Mary who shares my middle name" (Whitmore's middle name is "Jane"). "She Walks" is a sparkling, mid-tempo number with all the ache of Lucinda Williams or Gillian Welch, while "Cotton Sheets" plays out like a bright update of Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Passionate Kisses," Whitmore cannily using its central metaphor to stand in for the tension between upper and lower class.
She's just as adept on the record's softer numbers. "You Gonna Miss Me" is a slow ramble Whitmore wrote around the time she was moving from Texas for a brief stay in Tennessee. "I was really concerned about how leaving was going to be, and I think I was hopeful that I was going to be missed," she explains. "Sometimes, if I'm really emotionally involved when I'm playing a show, this song can get me to the point where I'm almost in tears."
The album was cut in a marathon two-day session in the studio, guided by the sure hand of producer Chris Masterson. "Chris produced my sister's record, Airplanes" Whitmore explains, "and it's unbelievable the things that he pulled together when we worked together. He had such great vision -– he could hear sounds that weren't there yet. I went into the studio with the intention of doing an EP, and he pushed me to do a full album."
The gambit paid off – Embers to Ashes is full of ragged, rugged, instantly memorable country songs, a document of a relationship where passion burns hot, bright and quickly, and danger looms like a thunderstorm in the distance.
"I'm so grateful I have songwriting as an outlet, because it lets me relieve some of my darker emotions," Whitmore explains. "Instead of going and maybe being a bit destructive, I just write songs instead. I know sometimes I write angsty songs, but that's how I get the angst out." Then she pauses and adds, with a wry smile, "Kinda makes you wonder about the people who write all those happy songs!"
Sam's Burger Joint
330 East Grayson Street
San Antonio, TX, 78215