Scott Miller, Broken Spoke, Saturday 17
Reviewed by Christopher Hess, Fri., March 16, 2001
Broken Spoke, Saturday 17
As the clouds continued to rumble and stir, the crowd rolled steadily into the Broken Spoke, the preeminent South Austin dance hall, electric with the anticipation of a long, rocking night of good old-fashioned American music. As frontman for his former outfit the V-Roys, Scott Miller was responsible for sophisticated bar-band rock & roll reminiscent of a southern Replacements, all the angst and the twang contained and filtered through a very precise sense of what a pop song should be. Having struck out on his own, Miller seems determined to do more of the same, his sensibilities that much more refined, the songs that much more cleaned and polished. He started out alone and acoustic, belting out his opening number in that clear and purty drawl of his, winning immediate attention from the stream of early arrivals. Proclaiming southern truisms like "There ain't no ham like the Birmingham" and "Loving that girl is hard on a man," Miller strummed out simple country tunes while playing a harmonica. His band the Commonwealth broke in at the end of the second tune, hard-hitting drums and bass making way for the guitar player's kick-ass solos. Much of the milder side of soul and honky-tonk surfaced in Miller's tunes, "God Damn the Sun" swinging hard, while "I Ain't No Miracle Worker, I Ain't No Miracle Man" came in low and growly and turned a bluesy shuffle into a nasty little pop song. Sugar Hill's stellar roster of bluegrass and country musicians were waiting in the wings, and no doubt many of the people filling the room before 9pm were there to claim space for Jerry Douglas or Sonny Landreth -- or more likely, a long closing set by Austin's the Gourds -- but Miller took every minute of his time and then some, adding another acoustic song at the end of his set to loud applause. If not as showy or charismatic as the V-Roys, Miller's new outfit packs at least most of that band's power, making his upcoming solo release an album to be anticipated.