90.3 THE ROCK presents Scott Miller & the Commonwealth New Year's Eve party at The Shed
December 31, 2010 - New Year's Eve
The Shed - located at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson in Maryville
Tickets: Available at www.smh-d.com/shed
Doors open at 8 p.m.
About Scott Miller & The Commonwealth:
Combining the emotional honesty and intelligence of a singer/songwriter with the swagger and enthusiasm of a rock & roller, Scott Miller first made a name for himself as guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter with the superb pop/rock band the V-Roys, before establishing himself as a solo artist to watch on his first album with his ad hoc group the Commonwealth, Thus Always to Tyrants.
The youngest of three children born to a Pennsylvania Dutch father and a mother from the Deep South, Miller was born and raised in Swoope, VA, where he developed a youthful fascination with the Civil War and Appalachian history that resonated in his later work. In his early teens, Miller picked up a guitar that once belonged to his older brother, and taught himself to play using a chord book published by The Reader's Digest. Miller developed an interest in songwriting while attending college at William and Mary, where he received degrees in American history and Russian and Soviet studies. In 1990, he moved to Knoxville, TN, where he began pursuing a career in music while supporting himself doing construction work.
Miller developed a local following as a solo acoustic artist with a repertoire of dryly humorous satiric material, but he began reaching a larger audience in 1994 when he formed a band with bassist Paxton Sellers, drummer Jeff Bills, and guitarist and songwriter John Paul Keith called the Viceroys. A year later, Keith left the group, Mic Harrison stepped in his place, and the band became known as the V-Roys when it was discovered that a reggae band was already using the name the Viceroys. The V-Roys' blend of Southern twang, power pop hooks, and rock & roll energy soon won them a wildly enthusiastic fan base in Tennessee and caught the ear of songwriter Steve Earle, who signed the V-Roys to his E-Squared record label and produced their 1996 debut album, Just Add Ice.
Just Add Ice won enthusiastic reviews, as did the band's 1998 follow-up, All About Town, also produced by Earle, which found the V-Roys adding acoustic instruments and bluegrass flavors to their mix, while Miller and Harrison began touching on more personal themes in their songwriting. The band reportedly butted heads with Earle while recording All About Town, and the combination of disappointing record sales and a tough touring schedule led to growing tensions within the band. In 1999, after recording a live album, Are You Through Yet?, the V-Roys amicably agreed to call it a day with a Farewell Millennium concert at Knoxville's Tennessee Theater on December 31, 1999.
Miller wasted no time launching a solo career, performing as an acoustic solo artist again and hosting singer/songwriter showcases at Knoxville clubs. Miller also scored a publishing deal with Welk Music and self-released a live album culled from his solo acoustic shows, entitled Are You with Me? Miller next signed a recording contract with Sugar Hill Records, best known for their roster of bluegrass artists, but his first album for the label found him diving back into rock & roll. Thus Always to Tyrants, a loose concept album about his Southern roots and one man's journey to emotional maturity, faced a handful of Appalachian ballads against a healthy dose of full-blown electric rock. The album also included a revolving lineup of musicians Miller dubbed the Commonwealth, including former John Mellencamp guitarist David Grissom, Don Coffey, Jr., of Superdrag, and fiddler Tim O'Brien.
Following the release of Thus Always to Tyrants, Miller assembled a touring version of the Commonwealth to support the album, featuring Rob McNelley on guitar, Jared Reynolds on bass, and Jimmy Lister on drums. An EP entitled Way arrived in 2003, followed by Upside Downside later in the year. Citation, Miller's third full-length release for Sugar Hill, dropped on March 14, 2006. The live Reconstruction arrived in 2007. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
About Mic Harrison & The High Score:
There is no doubt that Mic Harrison and the High Score is a working class band.
“One night in Little Rock, a guy said ‘You’re pretty fat for a band. You must have day jobs!’” says High Score bassist Vance Hillard with a laugh.
Maybe the man was used to anorexic college-aged hipsters living on ramen noodles and Red Bull. Who knows? In fact, the members of the Mic Harrison and the High Score do have day jobs with very understanding employers. They’d have to be considering the band’s regular recorded output and seemingly endless tour schedule, which has included dates at Bonnaroo, Chattanooga’s Riverbend Festival the Mucklewain festival and regular runs that take the band from Boston to Texas.
And, maybe having those day jobs is what keeps the band’s music so earthy and honest. It’s music for people who work 40-hours a week and need to be guaranteed a good time and feel a connection to something real and sincere. Every show is like a party where nobody seems to care when they accidentally get baptized by a spilled beer or fallen on by an unsteady fellow reveler.
When the band took a six month break to write and record the new album “Great Commotion” the world didn’t stop turning, but there was a definite void in the music scene that Mic Harrison has been a part of since the early 1990s.
A native of Bradford, Tenn., just beside the Kingdom of Skullbonia (reward yourself with an Internet search for it), Harrison was asked to join the Knoxville, Tenn.,-based V-Roys just as the band was being signed by Steve Earle to record the first release on Earle’s E-Squared Records. Harrison was 29 (“the same age as Chuck Berry started is the way I think about,” says Harrison). He was a sawmill worker and a singer-songwriter to be reckoned with. With the V-Roys, he recorded three albums, toured all across the United States and Europe and established a reputation as one of the most easy-going guys in Americana music.
After the V-Roys called it quits at a 1999 New Year’s Eve show in Knoxville, Harrison co-founded the short-lived band the Faults and, shortly thereafter, signed on as a member of Superdrag (power pop legends responsible for the hit “Sucked Out”). When Superdrag went on indefinite hiatus in 2003 Harrison recorded his second solo album “Pallbearer’s Shoes” with producer and Superdrag drummer Don Coffey, Jr. However, it wasn’t until Harrison joined forces with the High Score in 2007 and recorded “Push Me On Home” that everything really came together. The High Score, which included guitarist/vocalist Robbie Trosper (had been with Harrison in the Faults) and drummer Brad Henderson, was already an established band with its own following. The group needed a new bass player and Vance Hillard was recruited.
The combination was more than a success. Unlike bands with members who come together on stage and go their separate ways afterwards, Harrison, Trosper, Henderson and Hillard are constant companions when they’re off tour.
“There’s something to be said about four guys who play music together and get along as well as we do,” says Hillard.
That friendship can be heard on “Great Commotion,” the first release totally produced and recorded by the band and mastered by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel. At 14 tracks, it’s the longest and most varied disc the band has yet created.
“I tried to write some pop songs,” says Harrison. “’Interstate Wall’ was supposed to be a pop song, so was ‘Glass Bones.’ You see what they turned out like.”
Those and other songs fall into the band’s distinctive brand of roots rock with power pop hooks, blended with old-fashioned honky tonk, but the guitars are louder, the beats are stronger and the sound is more in-your-face.
“Whatever sound it is we have, I don’t want to leave that behind,” says Harrison. “We can push our borders, but we do have borders.”
With the late July release of “Great Commotion” the group will resume a tour schedule that will burn off the members’ and their fans’ calories and brain cells in earnest. The members say the exercise is definitely about the music and the adventure, not getting rich.
“That ain’t happening,” says Harrison. “To me, ‘making it’ is having a ready crowd that wants to hear you play.”
If that’s the case, Mic Harrison and the High Score made it a long time ago.
--Wayne Bledsoe, host of WDVX-FM’s “All Over the Road” and longtime music critic for the Knoxville News Sentinel