Singer-Songwriter-Pianist Scottie Miller is an international touring artist. He has just announced the release of his 10th self-produced CD Stay Above Water - Scottie Miller Band. (June, 2017-Blues/Rock.)
In 2008, Scottie was inducted in to the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame for his contributions to blues music and heritage with his instructional book and CD titled; Rock Keyboards published by Hal Leonard Corporation. He has also been the touring keyboardist for three-time Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster (Blue Corn Records) since 2008. He is featured on her Blues Music Award winning CD/DVD Live At Antones. He was a finalist in the ‘solo-duo’ category at The International Blues Challenge in 2006.
(Excerpts from an interview with Jimi Patricola).
Scottie – how did you wind up playing with Ruthie Foster Band?
"I met Ruthie in 2006 when I was keyboardist for Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer', Bo Diddley. After a two month tour across the USA we became good friends. Ruthie came and played The Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis (my home town), shortly after that tour and asked me to join her band. I’ve been Ruthie’s touring keyboardist ever since. We recently played Montreux and North Sea Jazz fest's rounding out her European tour. (July 2015).
Tell me more about ‘back in the day’ when you played with these/this classic artist(s).
"I attended Berklee College of Music in 1986. Toured and recorded with Big John Dickerson. After that, returning to my solo project I met keyboard legend Johnnie Johnson in St. Louis who was invited by my friend John May to come see my show. Shortly after, we sadly learned of Johnnie's passing. I was invited to play a song of mine ‘The Other Side’ at his memorial. This led me to meeting Henry Townsend, Robert Lockwood Jr. and Bo Diddley, (which led me to Ruthie Foster)."
Scottie plays everything from piano blues, rock n' roll, Spanish and Latin tinged jazz, gospel, classical, New Orleans funk and road-house blues. Highly recommended.
Stay Above Water by Scottie Miller Band mark’s Scottie Miller’s tenth independent CD release. On his latest effort, Scottie Miller continues to mix celebratory, uptempo numbers like “It Better Groove” with some introspective and inspiring lyrics.
Miller's lyrics are smart, the grooves are fat and his delivery is always
full of heart and soul He's a multi-instrumentalist with a deft touch on
piano, organ, keys and mandolin. Taking influences from New Orleans
R'n'B to the blues and touches of gospel, Miller spins fresh and lively
tunes that are intelligent and, usually, irresistibly danceable. Ruthie
Foster makes a guest appearance harmonizing with Miller on “Keep
This Good Thing Going.” Scottie and Ruthie recently co-wrote a song
“I Was Called” which is featured on the upcoming 2017 release by the
six-time Grammy award winning gospel group The Blind Boys of
Alabama. Produced by Steve Berlin (Los Lobos). Surrounding himself
with a fine group of players, Scottie Miller serves up another excellent
offering of meaty and engaging, rockin' blues on Stay Above Water.
“Southern soul infected...waves of sunshine...crushing
rock riffs...heavy groove.”
“An outstanding singer and songwriter...intense and
incendiary all-original blues rock.”
“Sounds like Dr. John meets The Band at Bruce
This is SMB's tenth release.
Recorded in March of 2017 at The Terrarium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Engineered by Rob Oesterlin and Jason Orris. Assisted by Alex Kosac. Mixed by Jason Orris. Mastered by Jacques Wait at Terrarium Mastering.
Reciprocation by Scottie Miller Band mark’s Scottie Miller’s ninth independent CD release.
“When we’re performing and we see our audience is moved, we feel more inspired. A powerful
exchange that elevates us all to a heightened level of energy throughout the show. It fills the room
with love, light and hope. This is Reciprocation.
Scottie has always offered a wide palette of styles on his recording’s. (New Orleans piano styles, Chicago Blues, Jazz, Funk, Soul, Americana, Gospel, Rock and even classically tinged singersongwriter material). It is this variety and originality that keep’s his loyal fans coming back for more with each new release. The new CD ‘Reciprocation’ show’s Scottie's affinity for rock. He grew up studying jazz and classical piano, but no young boy likes to be known as a “classical pianist” so he spent much of his time playing electric guitar and learning solo’s note for note with his first guitar. (A 1962 Epiphone Crestwood, played through a Crate amplifier in his green-shag carpeted bedroom.) He still owns the guitar and even played it some on this record. (Check the solo on “Too Far Gone”). Growing up listening to rock bands like Zeppelin, Floyd, AC/DC, Hendrix, Santana, Iron Maiden, Peter Frampton, Thin Lizzy, Jeff Beck, Rolling Stones and so on, Scottie could transcribe their guitar solo’s note for note, and was always a better “soloist” than rhythm player. Then it was back to the piano lessons to play Beethoven, Bach, Bill Evans, Chick Corea.
Joining SMB just prior to the recording of this album are new members Patrick Allen (guitar), and Dik Shopteau (bass). Recorded June 22-25, 2015 at north-east Minneapolis pinnacle studio The Terrarium. The newly revised band featuring veteran SMB drummer Mark O’Day played their first dozen shows immediately following the recording. Since then they have found a fresh, rocking and powerful union. There’s an undeniable musical symmetry between them as they continue to broaden their touring schedule beyond the twin-cities. Like their recent appearance at the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival in northern Michigan, where Scottie also joined three-time Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster for her headline set. (Scottie has been Ruthie’s touring keyboardist since 2008). Ruthie’s long time drummer Samantha Banks is quoted recently saying, “This new record is going to take him places. So many people are doing “rock, blues/rock with guitar as the main element, but no one is doing it with keyboards.” Scottie’s sterling silver vocal’s, distorted Wurlitzer and Hammond organ take the captain’s chair on this CD. A funky, punctuated and massive wall of drums and bass surround the highly featured guitar work of SMB’s Patrick Allen.
The album’s first official single “Bring It On”, will debut later this month on Itunes. “Bring It On” is about a rising, rock n’ roll star. “Are you ready to hear it...get ready to see it, a new kid walkin’ on the block.” “Can you touch the ground, do you feel alive... you’re coming out like a newborn child... You’re coming out, so sing the song, turn it up and bring it on.”
There are many lyrical references to hope and preservation; “Keep On Walking”; “There are times, when you’re hurting, and there’s no one for you to call. Just an empty room and lonely ghosts, and the bottom is where you fall...well keep on walkin’”. It’s like a personal cry from Scottie to the universe, “Cut through hatred and heavy stones, heal these wounded, broken bones and keep on walking”. The chorus is as if Scottie himself is pleading that we all be saved from the evil forces at work on earth. “I know there must be a better way for you and me, so I’ll walk on, keep on searchin’ I won’t let nothin’ take me down or bring me to my knees.”
Recorded June 22-25, 2015
at The Terrarium in Minneapolis, MN.
Mixed and engineered by Jason Orris and Rob Oesterlin.
"Some of us know Mr. Miller as the keyboard player for the great Ruthie Foster Band, but few of us
know his ability to rise up and shine on his own. The title track (and first cut) ‘Rise Up‘ states flatly that
we need to rise up, join together and be as one as one united nation. Thrilling and quite poignant
words, with a steady beat and soulful background vocals by Jennifer Grim make this an anthem for
the future of us all. Mr. Miller is much at ease with whatever style he takes on. ‘On My Way’ features
Dr. John styled vocals and subtle yet complex piano work that adds to the second line feel of this
track. In the next instance on ‘Grace’ he utilizes a bowed upright bass, nylon stringed acoustic and
some piano to create a song-prayer that is beautiful and sincere. One which is delivered with a
haunting clarity that sets the scene of the road and life’s crazy hectic pace and our need for a safe
“Scottie Miller band submits ten new songs, each one a soulful classic, with emotionally charged rock,
slightly countrified ballads, and rowdy, slide guitar blasts. Though there’s a touch of Tom Waits to the
hip “East St. Louis,” Miller most often comes on like a
Dr. John from the other end of the Mississippi.”
"...Clearly in a good mood, Foster, 50, gave plenty of props to the homeboys in her band – bassist
Larry Fulcher, who gave shout-outs to various friends and family, and opening act Scottie Miller,
whose B-3 organ and mandolin fueled and framed Foster’s music. She completely reimagined the
Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire” as a reliving of the seduction into a relationship, set to a slow
Southern drawl that made this overly familiar tune both completely unfamiliar and totally brilliant..."
"...Then Foster turned to Miller, who played an instrumental version of Leon Russell’s “A Song for
You” on the piano but it was really an introduction to her knockout number, “Phenomenal Woman.”
With her voice soaring, she delivered this anthem of empowerment and self-love, ending with lots of
“baby, baby, babies.” “Is there a phenomenal woman in the house?” she asked after the last note.
“Celebrate yourself. Ain’t nothing wrong with it.” Amen.
“Scottie Brings Minnesota Charm to Blues Week... I arrived late yesterday, but I came in time to see
the Scottie Miller Band. I was treated to some upbeat Blues, (oxymoron?
I think not) from a band form the headwaters of the Mississippi in MN. They specialized in ragtime,
boogie woogie, and even funk - led by Scottie's piano with Dr. John , or dare I say Screamin' Jay
hawkins overtones. Scottie also had a mid-western friendly banter going with the audience which I
think was endearing to them. Highlights for me were songs like ‘East St. Louis - kind of a whimsical
journey through the perceived dangers of the town at night. It also had tones reminiscent of Cab
Calloway's famous Minnie the Moocher.”
“Sounds like Dr. John meets The Band at Bruce Spingsteen’s house. Highly recommended.”
“...Miller is a capable singer and tunesmith, with a well-paced live show that moves seamlessly
through a variety of moods and funky grooves.”
“Scottie Miller is a world class lyricist with working class sensibilities. He sings from the heart with old
school soul and plays the funkiest New Orleans piano this side of
Dr. John. This cat’s got the goods!”