Dave Miller has been playing music, performing, and writing songs for 5 decades. He has played in taverns, dance halls, concert venues, festivals, showcases, and coffee houses from coast to coast across the United States and in British Columbia.
Dave Miller began playing music at age 13 when his mother bought him a five-string banjo for Christmas the year his father passed away. Dave would tune it up and play along with the country and bluegrass stars who performed on the Saturday afternoon music shows. He sometimes jokes that it was the great Earl Scruggs himself who taught Dave to play the banjo—Dave sitting on his sofa in Little Rock, Arkansas, Earl in the television studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Dave joined his first band, The 49ers, shortly thereafter in 1964 at the age of 14. Over time, Levon Helm, Merle Haggard, Delbert McClinton, Guy Clark, and John Prine all came to influence him.
Eventually, Dave Miller and some of his friends formed a bluegrass trio that played around Little Rock, and subsequently moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1976. The influences of the swing and two-stepping dance crowds and the great bands of the area that packed the dance floors, left a lasting impression on him. By 1977, keeping their homespun bluegrass and hillbilly roots, but adding swing, country rock, and western flavored ballads to their sound, they had named the band “Gumbo” because of the spicy mixture of so many types of music and instrumental combinations that the band had come to offer.
Throughout their tenure (1977-1982), Gumbo was a popular circuit band in Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, but played venues from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Fort Nelson, British Columbia, and all points in between, drawing big, enthusiastic crowds wherever they performed—even as the opening act for such performers as Brenda Lee, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Michael Martin Murphey.
In late 1978, the members of Gumbo moved to Alamosa, Colorado, and became a foundational piece of the vibrant and unique music scene that is still playing, creating, and recording a unique brand of Americana music in Colorado and Northern New Mexico. It was there that Dave Miller met Don Richmond, a fellow picker, writer, and performer who is now the Owner and Producer for Howlin’ Dog Studios, where Dave has recorded much of his original music.
In 2013, after taking a long break from the road, enjoying family life, and having a successful career designing and developing medical products, Dave Miller returned to his roots in performing and writing songs, and entered the world of recording.
In collaboration with, and as a tribute to, his Gumbo bandmate Pat Hooper, Dave Miller independently released his first album, titled Just Flow: The Tribute Sessions, in November 2016. From late 2013 to early 2014, Dave and his long-time picking pal, Pat Hooper, decided to take some of their original tunes into the studio and create a record that reflected the joy they always found in playing and singing together. They began working with Davis McCain at Easley-McCain Studios, where they succeeded at capturing the rhythm, bass, and lead vocal tracks for the songs. Then tragically, on April 2, 2014, Pat passed away. Encouraged by their many musician friends—Gumbo bandmates, players who had traveled the same circuits, Pat’s friends, Dave completed the recording for the album at Howlin' Dog Studios in late 2016. Don Richmond, Dave Miller, and Davis McCain engineered Just Flow: The Tribute Sessions, and Don Richmond and Dave Miller both produced the album.
Subsequently, in December 2017, Dave Miller released an album of 12 of his original songs, titled Southern Dreams, which was also recorded at Howlin' Dog Studios. Another independent release, Southern Dreams was recorded and engineered by Don Richmond at Howlin’ Dog Studios in Alamosa, Colorado. The album was produced by both Don Richmond and Dave Miller.
In October 2019, Dave Miller released another album featuring 12 of his original songs, titled Beauty Path. His first release to appear on the Howlin’ Dog Records label, Beauty Path was recorded and engineered by Don Richmond at Howlin’ Dog Studios in Alamosa, Colorado. The album was produced by both Don Richmond and Dave Miller.
Dave’s newest release in May 2022 is Prayers In the Wind, which takes listeners on a journey to meet the salty characters from Dave Miller’s past and makes sure that unsung heroes fighting the battles of everyday life are unsung no more. Prayers in the wind was produced by both Don Richmond and Dave Miller, and recorded at Howlin’ Dog Records in Alamosa, Colorado, and Farmhouse Studio in Moscow, Tennessee.
Nowadays, although he is based in Memphis, Tennessee—the town where he has resided since 1989, you can catch Dave Miller playing all over the Mid-South: with Mulberry Branch, his acoustical duo with fiddler Bill Thurman; or with Rocktown Revival, the six-piece band that Dave formed along with his cousin Frank Cox in late 2016 as a way to deliver Dave’s original music as well as to perform songs from some of the greatest American artists for folks who, like the band members, love the revival of roots-based music.