“Are you with me?” is Scott Miller’s mantra and battle cry – a question posed to the audience multiple times over the course of any given evening, usually answered by a smattering of hushed giggles that eventually erupt into belly laughs as he continues his wisecracks.
It’s a tactic that works well when he’s opening a gig, playing for a crowd that has no idea who he is but it’s equally amusing when he’s headlining as he did Wednesday night at the Cactus Café as is his storytelling in both his songs and banter whether reminding Texans that Sam Houston was born in Virginia in Say Ho or singing about teenage lust and rock ‘n’ roll in Freedom’s A Stranger.
Armed with three guitars and a variety of harmonicas, Scott fielded requests, played some new songs from his latest records Appalachian Refugee and For Crying Out Loud and rotated through some classics like Amtrak Crescent and Mess of This Town.
The space between tunes was filled with quips about having to edit himself while playing a show for his parents (“My parents have seen me play all of two times… you don’t understand, they’re old and judgmental… what does my mom think I do, go on the road and knit afghans?”), his family (“I come from a long, proud tradition of skinny, nervous people…”), and his big video deal with YouTube (“I haven’t seen any money yet but I know it’s coming and then I won’t be coming around here and bothering you by playing shows, I’ll just shuffle out to my mailbox in my robe and slippers and get my check”).
And not even Kenny Chesney (“I’d even let him cover one [of his songs], little tater bugger…”), Pete Seeger (“I’m a closet folkie and one of my biggest musical influences besides Rodger Miller, KISS and the Carpenters was Pete Seeger, even those he was a card-carrying communist like Burl Ives and the rest of those damn Reds…”) or charitable causes were entirely safe from his good-natured joking.
“I know a lot of musicians have their causes and I’m doing this benefit [for Grounded in Music] with Patty Griffin Thursday night at the Paramount,” he said as he introduced People Rule, the last song of his first set. “I don’t want to preach at you but there’s a few things that I’m really for, that I believe in. One of those is the single wing in college football, Velcro shoes because they’re so damn easy and the third thing is the kazoo, a very underrated instrument. It’s not as easy to play as it looks, thanks for letting me get on my soapbox.”
And after returning for a short encore he ended on a similarly irreverent note, he left the audience with “a gospel number” Earthly Treasures Are the Pleasures of this World.
Scott will be with Patty Griffin and Jack Ingram Thursday night (Jan. 21) at the Paramount Theatre for the Grounded in Music Benefit, the Mucky Duck in Houston on the 22nd and the All Good Café in Dallas on the 23rd.
Visit thescottmiller.com for more tour dates.
Ciderville Saturday Night
When Love Is Gone
Heart in Harms Way
8 Miles a Gallon
Freedom’s A Stranger
Lie I Believe
Drunk All Around This Town
I Made a Mess of This Town
Daddy Raised A Boy
Cheap Ain’t Cheap
Jump The Shark
Let You Down
Lo Siento, Spanishburg WVA
I Won’t Go With Her
Sin In Indiana
Loving That Girl
Earthly Pleasures are the Treasures of this World