Players: Tony Miller, vocals, guitar, harmonica
Material: Think about the sort of adult contemporary rock you’d want gently wafting from your radio while driving late at night on a summer evening, the windows down and wind blowing through your hair. That’s the type of music Tony Miller has been crafting for more than four decades. Though he has only one release, 2020’s Better Late Than Never, he’s been consistently appearing on streaming platform StageIt twice a week for some time, with Saturdays devoted to a cozy acoustic presentation.
Musicianship: Miller is adept at creating full-bodied sounds with no more than a guitar, harmonica and heartfelt vocals. A voice enhancement device allows him to incorporate two- and three-part harmonies, although he never uses pitch correction. This filter boosts his show from a humble, intimate performance to something bigger in the listener’s mind. Over a half-hour and change, he traded original compositions off his recorded debut with covers of ‘80s classics, including REO Speedwagon’s “Take It On the Run” and Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You.” The set concluded with an intriguing, although abbreviated, version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
Performance: Like every good live performer, Miller takes time to speak directly to his audience, and he’s skilled at doing so. He’s warm and loose when mentioning song names, directing people to purchase his album and delivering brief snippets of information about his tunes. Regretfully, he burned too many seconds soliciting requests toward the end of his slot, leaving little room to experiment with the King of Pop’s classic number. This is disappointing, as he insists he never performs any song in precisely the same way twice. One can’t help but wonder what he’d have created without a pressing time constraint.
Summary: Tony Miller is a seasoned performer with sizable chops. He has a remarkable ability to communicate feeling, even without an in-person audience or supporting performers to fall back on. His material is solid and bound to please listeners without extravagant tastes. The only problem is that his music feels stuck in the past. Miller would grab more attention by exploring far-flung sonic horizons or approaching his performance methodology from an unexpected angle.