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Monday, November 23, 2009

TA Miller: "Roll 'em Nice"

Roll 'em Nice (T. Miller, 2009) 

Lemonade, too much sun. Too much of anything, it ain't no fun. Novocaine, I can't feel my tongue. I may be drugged but I'm not that dumb. Roll 'em nice, roll 'em nice. Your uncle has a problem, he thinks he's always right. Roll 'em nice, but keep it out of sight - your uncle has a problem with the crop you like.

They say it's dangerous, but then so is walking. I took a hike and nearly fell off a mountain. It's a strange land, so many legal cases - but buy a 12-pack and get twice as wasted. Roll 'em nice...

They'll sell you anything they think you need - but what you want, not even a seed. I saw my doctor, he said, "Listen to your body." Well mine told me it was time to party! Roll 'em nice...

Click to listen: TA Miller: Roll 'em Nice

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rain Delay

Rain Delay (T. Miller, 2009)

When the rain comes down, I don't mind I don't always hide. Take a look at five. The way is straight and very wide, but I dream of one, with the fog and the burning sun. When I woke inside, my body free with a prison mind, and I'm hanging around. When the rain comes down, I stand outside but I'm getting dry. When I dream of one, it's clear to see that the fog is why even though I try, body low but I'm standing high. When the rain comes down, water goes where the rainbow shines. I'm not hanging around. When the rain comes down, I don't mind, I don't always hide. Take a look outside, where it's straight and it always winds. On the ground or in flight, body low but standing high. When the rain drops fly, let me flow where the water glides. Stop this hanging around

Download:  Rain Delay

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Swank Motel

Swank Motel was the Cleveland, Ohio "swing" cover band I played guitar for from 1993-98.  As our long-gone web page used to say:

"Swank Motel. has been called lounge, jazz, blues, rock, rockabilly, ska, heavy metal and a few other things as well. Swank Motel plays timeless music that spans virtually every decade of the 20th century. Everybody from Louis Jordan to AC/DC to Nirvana to Rosemary Clooney to Nat King Cole to the Circle Jerks. Swank Motel plays the sort of stuff workin' and drinkin' folks in Cleveland want to hear."

Vocalist and front man Darryl Whalen (Numbskull, Buddy Love Combo, many others) had the original idea for this band. Legend goes that he was trying to form a combo such as this as far back as the mid-1980's, but it wasn't until 1993 that he managed to convince someone (ME, on guitar) to actually do it. First came "Darryl & Tom's Screwed Up Acoustic Lounge Band." Next, the cool and talented singer Hadley Conner joined up. The finishing touches to the masterpiece known as Swank Motel was when funky bassist Benjamin Daniels showed up, and the groovin' and movin' Johnny P. (Lonesome Bones, Hemlocks) sat down behind the drum kit. Minutes later we were out entertaining club goers of all ages, from one side of town to the other. Along the way we also opened up for hep acts like NANCY SINATRA, SOUL COUGHING, and LYDIA LUNCH. How'd we do it? Check out the SWANK, below and find out: 

Come on-a-my House - version 1 (Rosemary Clooney)
World Up My Ass  (Circle Jerks)
Breed  (Nirvana)
Bela Lugosi's Dead (Bauhaus)
Six Pack  (Black Flag)
Party Doll  (Buddy Knox)
Route 66 (Bobby Troup)
Disco Inferno - version 1 (Trammps)

The year 1995 brought some major changes - Hadley and John bowed out and we welcomed aboard the multi-octave and wildly entertaining singer Jessica Skerry (Horvat), as well as Doug Turner and his fabulous drum kit...and so the SWANK continued, in a big-time way. This fantastic lineup is represented by the ever popular "Head Like A Hole," written by Mr. Trent Reznor himself. Naturally our version blows his out of the water. This track also features Kris Morron sliding that big 'ol trombone.  

DOWNLOAD:   Head Like A Hole  (Nine Inch Nails)

Not long after this was recorded, Darryl left the group. The remaining recordings feature myself, Jessica, Benjamin, Kris and either Doug or Ricky Exton on drums. Some recorded live, some recorded in the studio, ALL very swanky, as one would well imagine....

Disco Inferno - version 2 (Trammps)
Lazy Bones  (Hoagey Carmichael / Johnny Mercer)
Underdog  (cartoon theme song)
Secret  (Madonna)
Night and Day  (Cole Porter)
White Rabbit  (Jefferson Airplane)
Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens (Louis Jordan)
Come on-a-my House - version 2 (Rosemary Clooney)
Fight For Your Right To Party  (Beastie Boys)
Goldfinger  (James Bond theme)
Godzilla  (Blue Oyster Cult)
Spiderman (TV show theme song)
Breakin' The Law (Judas Priest)
Copacabana  (Barry Manilow)
Calling Doctor Love  (Kiss)

...and also two ORIGINAL compositions:

Chase Me With a Dead Fish  (Miller/Skerry)
Hugo The Dharma Cat  (B. Daniels/B. Gomein)

In the summer of 1998 I left the band to go on a long sabbatical out west. When I returned, I joined Darryl's Buddy Love Combo before moving out to Seattle. Swank Motel continued on for a while after I quit with a new guitar player named Danny White, before finally breaking up in 1999.   I went to see them play one time before I left town, and I can tell you it was still a (you guessed it) SWANKY good time. Today Jessica Skerry-Horvat plays in the band Lounge Kitty. If you like any of this music, then Tom Miller's Music Clog recommends you check out Lounge Kitty's web page and go see them play the next time you are Cleveland.
So that's it folks...and remember, whatever you do, DON'T go changing!! (unless it's for the better, of course)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tom Miller - More Solo Recordings

STAY IN LOVE (FOR THE SAKE OF LOVE) - I had a dream several weeks ago that the Ramones were still alive and were jamming with Neil Young and the keyboard player from the Cars. When I woke up, I wrote this song.

SOLID GOLD  Try counting it up now, does it all add up?  Since I'm not rich and famous, I don't have the answer.   I posted this song briefly back in June, then took it down so I could re-mix it.

I'LL FEEL A WHOLE LOT BETTER written by Gene Clark and originally performed by the Byrds. Gene might roll in his grave if he heard this, but he is one of my favorite singer/songwriter guys from the 60's/70's. I could never come close to Gene, Roger McGuinn or David Crosby in the vocal department, so I didn't try to. No point to this, just somethin' to do on a rainy day.

Once again, I played all the stuff and did the singing, so don't go blaming anyone else. All songs copyright 2009 by T.A. Miller except "Feel A Whole Lot Better" by Gene Clark.

Stay In Love (For The Sake of Love)
Solid Gold
I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better

See my older post if you want more Miller recordings.

Coming soon: Swank Motel

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Hemlocks: 1991 - 1994

By the beginning of 1991, Fraser and I were both gone from Starvation Army. I was given an abrupt pink slip; Fraser either quit or was fired, the story varies depending on who you talk to. So while the "new" SA was touring Europe with Green Day, Fraser and I started this project. Originally it was to have been a band, but apparently a classified ad stating, "ex-Starvation Army members looking for musicians" does not cause people to flock to your doorstep.

After 6 months of songwriting and frustration at not finding a bass player and drummer, we were ready to pack it in and call it a day. Fraser made plans to move to Laredo, Texas, of all places. I enrolled full-time at CSU, in an attempt to put my music career dreams in the dust bin where they most likely belonged.

All well and good, except Robert Griffin happened to be putting together a compilation CD right then. I decided we needed to be on it, as a final farewell to the Cleveland music scene. No band? No problem! We went into Mars recording studio armed with an acoustic guitar and a couple of lyric sheets, and recorded four songs. The two below appeared on "Hotel Cleveland, Vol. 3," on Scat Records. The other two songs we recorded, "Little Miss Hell" and "Prince of the Suburbs" seem to have gone missing from my musical library, so unfortunately I can not post them.

Fraser Sims - vocals
Tom Miller - guitar, tambourine

Heaven (version 1)
Wedding Day (version 1)

That should have been the end of the story, except Fraser moved back to Cleveland in 1993, and against our better judgment, we decided to give it a go one more time. After knocking the rust off our act by playing an acoustic show at the Literary Cafe, we put together the band lineup that is featured below. These 4 songs were recorded in a barn outside of Wooster, Ohio in the dead of winter 1994. It was cold and the owner/engineer was somewhat of a dick, but hey, it was only 10 bucks and hour.

Fraser Sims - lead vocals
Benjamin Daniels - bass
John Paturnak - drums
Tom Miller - guitars, backing vocals

Wedding Day (version 2)
My Alibi
10 Blocks
Sixes and Sevens

Not long after this, we played a show at the Grog Shop, and not long after that Fraser quit. For better or worse, these songs end up being the last music Mr. Sims has recorded to date. Listening to them now, it's easy to pick up on the sense of frustration in the lyrics: bad relationships, bad break-ups and associations reaching a dead end. Except, of course, reaching a dead end also means turning around and setting a new course. Time to move on. Regrets? Possibly, but does it really matter?

So now it's 2009 and I have decided to pull two more relics out of my closet and dust them off. The songs below are new "remixes." "Heaven (version 2)" is the Mars studio acoustic track; "Perfect Abandon" is a guitar and vocal-only rehearsal tape from 1993. I thought it would be fun to "finish" them by adding the bass and drums that have been missing all these years. Whether they are improved or desecrated is a moot point.

Fraser Sims - lead vocals
Tom Miller - guitars, drums, bass

Heaven (version 2)
Perfect Abandon

All songs copyright 1991, 1993, 1994 by Miller/Sims except "10 Blocks" which is copyright 1994 by Miller/Sims/Daniels. Thanks to Paul Slava for the image. Flyer by Rebble.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The New Caesars

Yet more old music from my musical closet & more free downloads for whoever cares.

Cleveland, 1996-97
Doug Morgan (Neptune's Car, Pressler-Morgan, Human Switchboard, etc.) formed this band and was the writer, arranger, singer and general mastermind behind it.

"Lou" and "Flame" feature Morgan on guitar & vocals; Jeff Benik (California Speedbag) on drums, Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices, Cobra Verde, Death of Samantha) on lead guitar and Mike Derrick on bass. This was a studio-only lineup that never played a live show.

At the end of 1996 Doug put together the lineup that is featured on the remaining tracks. This lineup was: Doug Morgan - guitar, vocals; Jeff Benik - drums; Brent Collins - bass, guitar; and myself (Tom Miller) on guitar. This was the "real" band; the one that was going to record, play gigs and (according to Doug) get famous...and the rest would be history. Turns out the rest WAS history, and a very short one at that.

We played 4 shows total, before the whole thing blew apart. It didn't help that Jeff quit after the recordings, and that every gig we played featured a different drummer. On New Years Eve, 1997-98, we even had our bass player Brent play bass and drums simultaneously. Brent could do amazing things like that. Some say we never sounded better live then that night, but it didn't matter much since we broke up immediately afterward. Too bad because I really liked Doug's songs; I thought they might even have had some commercial potential, in a Tom Verlaine/Rolling Stones/Wilco-ish sort of way. So much for that idea. Oh well, here are the songs now, in all their never-before-released-to-the-public glory.

All songs are copyright 1996 & 1997 by Doug Morgan. Used by permission.

No Real Thing
My New Moon
Lip Shine
Musical Fatuwa
What Would You Have Me Do?

Neptune's Car recordings (plus a lot of other great music) can be found at Ted Barron's "Boogie Woogie Flu" blog.

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's Brunch time!!!

Today's post goes back to the mid-1990's and features BRUNCH. No one has ever heard of this group before, not even in our hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. That's because Brunch never played a gig, never released any recordings and never even took a band photo.

Brunch was Jessica Skerry, vocals; Benjamin Daniels, bass; Toby, drums, and myself on guitar. We were all Cleveland State University students back in 1994. Ben and I were also members of Swank Motel, a locally popular swing band. Since Swank only played cover songs, Brunch was going to be an outlet for our original songs.

We rehearsed several times per week for almost a year, but somehow we never thought we were quite "ready" to play out, so we never booked a live show. Listening back to the tapes we made, I'm not quite sure what it is we were trying to perfect. It all sounds OK to me - at the very least, good enough for some drunks at a bar.

Two major events brought the band to a close, before we ever got off the ground. First, Toby graduated and then immediately left for Europe to further his musical studies. At the same time, Swank Motel had a crisis and needed a new singer; Jessica was the obvious choice.

Before that happened though, we took a 4-track recorder over to Jessica's basement in Shaker Heights and taped the 4 songs posted below. "Chico," "Chase Me With A Dead Fish" and "Jaded" is music that I wrote with Jessica writing the words and inventing the singing parts. "Hugo The Dharma Cat" was Ben and Jessica's creation. Note the intro borrowed from "Black Orpheus."

"Hugo" and "Dead Fish" were both later re-recorded by Swank Motel in a real recording studio. I'll be getting to those recordings in a future post.

That's the basic facts. Today Jessica sings in the Cleveland band Lounge Kitty. Last I heard, Benjamin was living in China, teaching and still playing music. Toby - I have no idea what he is up to. I'm so out of touch, I can't even remember his last name!!!

So...come and get your Brunch, finally. It might be old and moldy but that's too bad for you. Hey, if you don't like it, then go to McDonald's!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tom Miller - New solo recordings

I no longer play in bands; instead I have been concentrating on solo recordings, just to have some fun and occupy my spare time, since I'm not into fishing or golf. Found below are some songs I recently recorded at home on my little 4-track machine. I wrote them and played the instruments and sang.

"I Just Want To Make You Happy'" "You've Done It Now," "Let's Go To L.A.," and "Upset" are my version of rock music. Pretty basic but that's what I like to hear, usually. The other 2 songs are instrumentals. One is long and pseudo-funky, as the title implies. The other, "Catwalk" is short and kind of folky. The title is not about cats; I named it after a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington State called "The Catwalk." Not that it really matters.

All songs copyright 2009 by T.A. Miller. I will be posting more new songs as I finish them.