The Gregg Miller Group

The Gregg Miller Group
Just Keeps On Groovin'

By Courtney Sudhalter
November 2006

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Gregg Miller had quite an exciting summer.

With two trips to Europe under his belt - as an opening act for B.B King at the House of Blues in Chicago, and balancing local gigs in between, Miller is flying high.

His whirlwind summer tour kicked off June 6 in Chicago for the Guitarmageddon Finals.  Two days later, he opened for B.B. King, and the next day jetted off to Germany for the Insel Blues Festival and several shows in Switzerland.

The winter promises to be just as wild, as Miller is planning his 3rd Annual Blues Festival on Dec. 10, to benefit needy families in the Boston area. There will be a line up of local acts like Basic Black, Ricky ‘King’ Russell, Racky Thomas and more.

The Gregg Miller Group began in 1999, and it is a powerhouse.

On drums is Rob Egan, a man with intensity emulating from him as soon as he sits behind his set and bangs out his first note. Bassist Ric Naistadt is an outstanding player who often challenges Miller to kick it up a level, and finds just the right phrasing to sneak in and compliment Miller’s playing. Mirko Tani from Italy rounds out the band on his Hammond B-3 keyboard, and with Miller on guitar and vocals, they put on quite a show.

Miller and his 2006 Gibson SG set off to the House of Blues in Chicago where he was a finalist in the Guitarmageddon contest, sponsored by Guitar Center.  Miller started out in the local store competitions and advanced to store finals and districts, followed by regionals.

Along with the chance to open for B.B. King at a sold out show, there were also cash and prizes along the way.

Fresh from his first tour in Europe, Miller’s homecoming and birthday party at Next Page in Weymouth turned into a barn burner.  (Scuttlebutt from those in attendance that night was that the “Prince of Blues” was back to play.)  If you missed that show just ask the repair crew they called in to put the roof back on – that’s how hot it got!

Riding high from his recent achievements, he tore through some of his earlier work. As he played his ’63 Strat he calls ‘Baby Blue’ one starts to recall another guitar player who also liked to name his guitars.  Personally, as someone who never had the chance to hear Stevie Ray Vaughn play live, it is always a pleasure to catch Gregg in that zone.

Miller was able to sit with B.B King and Hubert Sumlin, and said B.B. was great to talk to.  He also shared stories of being in Weepin Willy’s Band with King, and was able to make him laugh.  According to Miller, “If you can make the King laugh, you know you’re on the right track.”

During Miller’s second trip to Europe he not only had time for sightseeing, he also performed several shows and found time to step into a recording studio.

“The recording studio in Germany was very different,” says Miller. “There was a very small studio and a control room with all digital equipment and we didn’t play live.”

He re-recorded some of his original songs, made a few new business contacts and drew interest from two labels and a management company.  With regards to his overseas venture Miller said it was definitely worth doing.

“No matter where you go, the blues crowds react in different ways.  In southern Germany, the crowds are very energetic and give big applauds. Yet in Switzerland, the crowd is much more subdued and watches very attentively.  While over in Italy they are just plain crazy for American blues guitar players,” Miller said, while noting “the fans back home, especially the local fans, are just the best”.

Regardless of all his world travel, he has recently started experimenting at home with a horn section and an Allman Brothers tribute.  He invited Bruce McGrath who plays sax, to play with the band when Mirko Tani is unavailable.

“I wanted to hear how my original music sounded with the horns. I think it came out stellar,” he said.

Having caught the Gregg Miller Group’s innovative Allman Brothers show first hand, the crowd starts buzzing when they see Russ and Pablo setting up their instruments.  The band integrates Russ Costa on guitar and vocals, and Pablo smoothly on percussion.  The sounds and styling of the new side projects are terrific.  He’s not afraid to stretch his boundaries or his style – it’s a very interesting mix for him and his group.

Be sure to check out the bands at Miller’s blues festival at Kilroy’s Pub, starting at 2 p.m. on Dec. 10.  Not only will it be a great show but it’s also for a great cause – needy area families.  The cover is $12 at the door or $10 if you bring a non-perishable food item, a clean item of clothing, or a toy.

www.greggmillergroup.com

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