More from Steve Miller: Fans are addicted to the hits

Written by Scott Mervis on .

Steve-Miller-1If you’ve been to classic rock shows, you’ve seen this happen over and over again. The artist begins introducing a new song and within seconds people are up and heading for the bathroom or beer stand. It even happens to Bon Jovi, and the ladies can’t get enough of staring at him.

We’ve heard artists wage some mild complaints about it, but in a recent teleconference Steve Miller went off, going after fans and critics alike.

"But, our audiences are so conservative now and so strangely addicted to ... They’ve paid their money, they want to hear the greatest hits. We’ll go out and we’ll be playing in front of 15,000 people and say, “Hey, we’re going to do three new songs from something we just recorded” and 5,000 people get up and go get a hot dog and a beer and they don’t come back until they hear the opening strings of ‘The Joker’ or ‘Fly Like an Eagle.’ That to me has really bothered me about audiences is that when you have the kind of 40 years’ success with ....

"I mean, this is unprecedented. People are playing music that I recorded 40 years ago on the radio all over the world. I’ve played myself into a box in one way in that, I mean, I see it all the time. I generally do a two hour show. I do about 23-24 songs. There’s 14 greatest hits. So, that gives me 9-10 songs to play with.

"I feel like I have to sneak them into my set. I feel like when the critics come to see my show, they go, 'Well, then they went into this jazz/blues thing for a while and the energy went out of the audience until they came back and played this other song.' So, it’s a very strange kind of world that I occupy.

"I love playing. I’m a writer and a singer and a guitarist and a band leader. I love performing and connecting with an audience never gets old for me, but it does get old for me when my audience is just only interested in something they’ve already heard and it makes doing new stuff very ... it’s a strange experience right now."


What did I say?

Proud to say I did not go for a hot dog and a beer during the non-hit parade, but I wasn't blown away either. From my review his concert at the First Niagara Pavilion in 2008: 

“The mid-section of the concert is Miller’s baby these days, his chance to stretch out on a variety of blues.

"On board for this tour is new member Sonny Charles, from the Checkmates, who brought some flashy ol’ doo-wop showmanship to the stage. He got to step out front for Bo Diddley’s ‘Pretty Thing,’ a gritty rocker he failed to do justice to. Charles sounded better on the smoother jive tune ‘Ooo Poo Pa Do.’

"Between Miller and ace harmonica player Norton Buffalo, the band certainly has blues chops, as heard on “Mercury Blues” and “Come On,” but it’s not anything you couldn’t get at the corner bar, where the beer is a lot cheaper.”

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Punk shocker: Black Flag + Joe Grushecky

Written by Scott Mervis on .

grusheckyMike Vallely, Joe Grushecky and Greg Ginn (photo by Desiree Grushecky)

When you go to a Bruce Springsteen concert, you expect an appearance by Joe Grushecky.But a Black Flag show?!

The Iron City Houserocker did indeed get on stage with the legendary hardcore band Wednesday night at Altar Bar.

Here’s the connection: Grushecky is a longtime friend of Mike Vallely, the singer and former pro skater standing in for Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, Henry Rollins, etc., in this version of Greg Ginn’s band.

Grushecky met Vallely more than a decade ago at a Houserockers show in Jersey. Vallely was impressed with Grushecky’s lyrics and approached him with some of his own writing.

“I’m like, ‘Here’s this hardcore skating guy and he was writing this poetry that was really good, really streetwise,” Grushecky says. “It seemed right to take that step and write music to it.”

They recorded the EP “Weekend in Pittsburgh” together in 2002, and Vallely also became friends with Joe’s son Johnny.

“He would come into Pittsburgh when he was in town and he would stay at the house and he took Johnny’s band on tour,” Grushecky says. “I went with them, and opened doing some acoustic songs.”

Grushecky is not the consummate Black Flag fan or anything -- (no four-bars tattoo on HIS arm), but he went to check them out Wednesday night.

“I can’t tell you every Black Flag song they played, but they were great. I was aware of them, as much as the Dead Kennedys, the Descendents, all those bands.”

Grushecky was surprised to learn show that Black Flag and SST founder Ginn was an Iron City Houserockers fan back in the day. “He played a lot of the same clubs we did on the East Coast and would hear about us,” Grushecky says.

BF invited Grushecky up for an extended jam on the last encore: “Louie Louie.” Of course, Grushecky knew it, and Black Flag cut it in 1981 with Dez Cadena on vocals.

Grushecky realizes he must have seemed out of the place to some members of the crowd.

“I’m sure the older punkers were amazed, like ‘Geeze, you played with Bruce Springsteen and now you’re playing with Black Flag.’ Opposite end of the spectrum, but music is music.”

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