Ross, Miller complex pair
Last Saturday night was very interesting. I saw Don Ross and Brooke Miller do a concert in the Studio Theatre that is hard to describe because of the diverse music played. Don is a guitarist with a reputation that is well known all over the world. After seeing him play, it’s easy to understand why. He makes his guitar sound like a whole band (minus drums) without looping.
The fist tune he did was something calledDracula and Friends Part 2.He used a specially made baritone guitar that naturally is a little bigger than most acoustic guitars, but the bridge was offset so the bottom strings can be longer.
What a funky tune. There were three parts being played at the same time. I thought the tune could have been something Tower of Power would do. Don told me afterward he is a big fan of that band. He said you can almost imagine the horn hits coming through in this tune and he’s right.
Brooke Miller is a great discovery. What a songwriter, what a voice, what a guitar player. When she sang World on a Whimit was like listening to Joni Mitchell. It’s not that Brooke is copying anything.
The quality of her voice combined with the creative melody lines that feel familiar, but don’t go anywhere near where you expect them to, and the guitar accompaniment that is independent of the lyric melody, yet supportive, presents a mature artist who just happens to sound like Mitchell.
Last week Don told me that his audiences are always asking him to sing more, which is why his next CD is all vocal instead of instrumental.
He sang one song,Any Colour But Blue,and I agree, I could listen to him sing all night. He has such a terrific tenor voice that is pure and distinctive, but the focus on his guitar work would be distracted. I don’t know if I could he happy just to hear him sing and accompany himself, or disturbed that I couldn’t listen solely to his instrumental guitar. Tough choice.
Brooke accompanied Don on some songs, but often let Don have the stage by himself. There was only one occasion I recall that Don sat out. He did some great and subtle dobro and lap steel guitar work to augment Brooke’s tunes. Because of the complex nature of the songs each writes, they create tunings that work best. Consequently, they spent a lot of time retuning for every song, but it wasn’t down time like it is with so many other acts when you wish they’d just get to the song. At least we had the sense that the next song coming was going to really be worth waiting for.
On the last song of the night, Brooke joked the tuning sequence was actually the intro to the song.
The pair developed a rapport with the audience, telling interesting stories about the songs or sharing observations about the places they’ve been to around the world; like how last year they were in Australia at this time (hot), and the year before in Hawaii(hotter), so being in Orillia feels just the same.
They live close by, and they know where Orillia’s movie house is, but they said this was the first time they got into town to really see what the city is like. It’s sounded like they enjoyed their day trip. The full house certainly enjoyed their concert.