Scott Miller & The Commonwealth

Scott Miller

Scott Miller blends folk and rock like there ain’t no words for. The power of storytelling with the power of a compressed electric guitar comes through this Virginian not heard since the likes of Wayne Newton (fellow Virginian) or The Statler Brothers (also of the Commonwealth.) Not even since Thomas Jefferson (Virginian) and Woodrow Wilson (another Virginian) formed their rock trio with drummer Stewart Copeland (northern Virginian) “League of Nations”. Unlike most of the faux-simplified-effete’-elite-Americana/ Alt-Country world, Miller was actually raised on a working farm. His parents were a WWII generation couple that carried on the Spartan lifestyle of their Scots-Irish forefathers. Miller has described the lifestyle as “Amish that drink.” In 1990, Miller left the family farm and moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he started scraping a living in local bars and clubs. Miller then founded a rock band called the V-roys, the first band signed to Jack Emerson’s (R.I.P.) and Steve Earle’s E-Squared label. His songwriting became more mature. His understanding of the music “biz” (“It ain’t called ‘show-friends.”) became more astute, but his guitar playing remained the ham fisted flat-picking of his youth. He calls them “solos.” Releasing four albums over the next 6 years for the highly respected Sugar Hill Label: THUS ALWAYS TO TYRANTS ( '01), UPSIDE/DOWNSIDE ('03--a #1 Americana Record), CITATION ('05), and the live album RECONSTRUCTION ('07) , Miller and the Commonwealth spent a year as the house band for the WB Network's "Blue Collar TV with Jeff Foxworthy." Miller recounts, “Suddenly the band and I didn’t have to load up and travel every night, we could walk across from the theatre where the television show was taped into a 5 star hotel bar, and make great money doing it. I hated it, of course.” And now, like most artists with a brain these days,Miller has founded his own record label (F.A.Y. Recordings) and is releasing a brand new record for '09 titled FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. This new batch of songs are already causing quite a stir among fans and critics. And critics of fans. And fans who criticize critics. And fans who criticize other fans. And even the critics who critique the critics of criticizing fans... A parting word from the artist: "If this record gets to number one I will send each of you a REAL LIVE PONY!".

Mic Harrison & the High Score

Based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, Mic Harrison has been a part of Knoxville's since the early 1990s, fronting his band, The High Score, a working class cadre whose day jobs keep the band's countrified rock 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.

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. 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.

"Great Commotion", the third album by Mic Harrison & the High Score, is the latest addition in the line of great albums put out by Mic Harrison over the last 15 years, delivering 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.

BJ Barham

High-energy country rockers American Aquarium have toured relentlessly for the last five years.

From the beginning, BJ Barham, the Raleigh-based group's heartbeat and frontman, knew that is how he'd build his band.

American Aquarium is often compared to Drive By Truckers, but their music is also part Bruce Springsteen and part Old 97's. You could call them North Carolina's version of New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem, whose geographic storytelling style is similar, but for American Aquarium, the subject matter is the South.

$12 online / $15 at the door

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The Pour House Music Hall

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Scott Miller & The Commonwealth with Mic Harrison & the High Score, BJ Barham

Saturday, July 27 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at The Pour House Music Hall