SCOTTIE MILLER - ELIXIR FOR THE SOUL ,
is indeed music for the soul. If there is any question about this singer-songwriter-pianist’s abilities to knock the keys right out of a piano, you may as well put it to rest and go see a show for yourself!
Scottie Miller & The Re-Uptake Inhibitors dig satisfyingly into Southern soul, slow blues and a bit of Latin/Caribbean jazz on their self-released 'Elixir For The Soul', the project is dominated by dramatic ballads and greasy funk. Under the fingers of Minneapolis keyboard ace Miller, the welcome retro sounds of clavinet and Fender Rhodes in addition to piano and Hammond organ, lend varied textures to the Inhibitors' superbad grooves. Sounds like Dr. John meets The Band at Bruce Springsteen's house. - Blues Revue Magazine
“Scottie Miller has a soulful way of writing and delivering a song that will improve your mood and lighten your load. Thus, the new release “Elixir For The Soul,” as the name implies, is almost medicinal.
Helping spread the tonic are his Re-Uptake Inhibitors, who “funkify” and soularize” this gumbo of piano driven blues-soul. This record is a snapshot of fine players working through well-crafted tunes and coming up with a sound and style that, in a fairly crowded niche, is all their own.
“We’ve been playing together since the year 2000, and each of us in the band have seen our share of good and bad times, depression, loss of family and loved one’s, relationship’s gone bad, and to be able to perform and record music that reflects our daily lives is a true blessing. (I’ve also had my experience with seratonin re-uptake inhibitors, hence the name on this release. Music is the “Elixir” that can lift you up or cradle you when you’re down,” says Scottie.
“Move On” is a relationship tune that, in its medium funk groove, describes the situation where the fork in the road is to either get past the problem or separate and move on. Lines about “forget about the past” mix with searing horn lines from
Brian “Zoot Simonds” and a solid guitar solo by David Barry (Janet Jackson), that builds volcanically. It starts the disc on a dynamic note. Miller has a natural feel for gospel music that is not copied or studied but just oozes out on the uplifting
“Sweet Babe”, which was nominated as a Top 50 single by City Pages, Minneapolis in 2008. “I’ve always been drawn to Gospel music, even though I wasn’t raised with it, it comes through on each CD I record. I believe it holds a strong spiritual vibe that I just can’t help playing. I think Gospel finds you. It’s the spirit working through me to try and carry a message through the music that in turn helps me work through things in my own life. I’m grateful for that” says Scottie.
With the Twin Cites as home base, Miller studied in Boston at the renowned
Berklee College of Music where he enjoyed a partial Chick Corea scholarship in 1986. He returned to Minnesota to play in a series of blues and R&B bands, including Big John Dickerson and Blue Chamber, and also toured for two months across the USA with the late rock ‘n roll pioneer Bo Diddley in 2006.
Scottie was selected to represent The Greater Twin Cities Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, so he tried booking some gigs along the way down there, and was fortunate enough to meet John May of BB’s Jazz Blues & Soups in St Louis. After playing there and cultivating an instant batch of new fans, Scottie continued to return to St Louis to play at BB’s. One night during one of his shows, John May had invited the great Johnnie Johnson to come hear Scottie play. “John May gave me a couple huge cigars and told me to bring them to Johnnie and meet him,” Scottie states. “He graciously asked me to sit down and I gave him the cigars, and he was like, alright man, now you’re talkin’!” Scottie and Johnnie sat at the table and laughed and reminisced about his days with Chuck Berry and got along quite well. After his break Scottie went up to play his set. Johnnie enjoyed the set so much he got up and played a few songs with the band. Scottie of course introducing and helping Johnnie on the stage over to his piano. “He played a version of “Georgia” that had that Johnnie Johnson arrangement style I will never forget. It was so beautiful. I’ve been playing that song on my gig’s ever since that night,” says Scottie. One month later to the day, Johnnie passed away.
“It was a sad day, yet filled with so much respect for this man. I met guitarist
Tony “T”, (Johnnie Johnson/Bo Diddley, bassist Gus Thornton, (Albert King), and drummer Chris Boyd. All world class St Louis players that were part of Johnnie’s band and at the time working with Bo Diddley on occassion.” Scottie was invited to play Johnnie’s tribute concert at Mississippi Nights, and Jefferson Barracks in St Louis to perform his song “The Other Side”, then jamming with Bo Diddley. “That started my connection with Bo Diddley, and a year later I found myself on tour with Bo Diddley, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Ruthie Foster.” Bo and Scottie shared one evening before a concert on the east coast jamming together; “I was just sitting in one of the green-rooms playing an old upright piano, when Bo came in a started improvising and singing a bunch of church,chant type stuff. We couldn’t stop, it was such a blast! I think Alvin recorded some of it on his phone. I wish I had that recording,” says Scottie.
Along the way Scottie met many of his favorite artists; Robert Lockwood Jr, Henry Townsend, Dr. John, Henry Butler. “I feel so blessed to have met so many blues greats and piano icons. I met Henry Townsend at his home in St Louis, and sat in his living room listening to him talk about the music business, the old days, and now. He’s seen it all man, and it was a great honor to visit with him. He asked me to play a little somethin’ on his piano. So I played “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” the old Roosevelt Sykes tune, which of course Townsend knew from all his years in the
St Louis scene. I’ll never forget what he said; “You got nothin’ to worry about man,” he also said “It’s ok to have a little whiskey now and then”, I was never too good at having just a little whiskey,” Scottie says.
John May, (current owner of BB’s Jazz Blues & Soups - St Louis) saw that Scottie had real talent and happened to be a big fan of piano players. He has more than vouched for Scottie’s talent over the years, and continues to invite Scottie to headline shows at BB’s and local blues festivals, such as the Big Muddy Blues Fest, as well as featuring Scottie on the “BB’s Presents” blues series filmed by Front Row Music and featured on PBS syndicates around the world. “I owe all these great experiences to John May,” states Scottie, he has made a conscious effort to introduce me to so many legends of the blues, and exposed me to a huge community of music lovers and talented musicians in St Louis.”
Scottie’s previous CD releases; The Other Side, Days of Reckoning, and
Livin’ Between The Black n’ White, have garnered much positive press here and overseas. His “Livin Between The Black n’ White” tribute to piano greats such as Otis Spann, and Roosevelt Sykes was nominated for “Best Self-Produced CD” in 2006 for the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” awards. “You were right if you thought I’d like it! It’s great to hear Scottie is keeping up the tradition” - Ann Rabson
Scottie was recently inducted to the Minnesota Blues hall of Fame for his contributions in Blues Literature for “Rock Keyboards”, published by Hal Leonard Corporation in 2003, Rock Keyboard is an instructional keyboard book with a “play-along” CD covering many different styles of rock and blues music. The play-along CD features his band including, John Iden, Mark O’Day and Paul Mayasich.
Scottie “Bones” Miller has distinguished himself as a performer both on the local scene and nationally. In 2005 he represented Minnesota at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN and finished among the top five finalists in the solo/duo competition. He continues to draw new attention to his music at clubs, festivals and on radio stations across the country.
“Scottie Miller is a world class lyricist with working class sensibilities. He sings from the heart with old school soul and plays the funkiest New Orleans piano this side of Dr. John. This cat’s got the goods!” – The Blues Hound (KPFT Houston, TX)
“As a promoter you dream of bands like this. What a treat for everyone! Scottie and the boys left ‘em sweaty and hollering for more.”
Michael Jankovec (Boundary Waters Blues Festival)
Currently, Scottie divides his time between playing solo, fronting
The Re-Uptake Inhibitors, and touring with the “Phenomenal” Ruthie Foster (Blue Corn Records). “After the Bo Diddley tour, Ruthie got a couple shows booked at a top twin-cites venue, “The Dakota Jazz Club”, Scottie says, she asked me to join her on piano, rhodes and organ. Now they book my band at The Dakota. My relationship with Ruthie has grown since then. I’m touring with her band every couple of months now. She is a shining star and has shown me so much about performance, reminding me of the light you can give out through music, and how to handle this sometimes crazy business. Ruthie and her music influence my songwriting, soothes my soul and helps me grow as a musician and band leader.”
During a show at Antones in Austin, TX, Scottie’s digital piano broke down during his first tune. Scottie recalls; “The sound tech offered to grab Pinetop Perkins’ piano from up in storage at the club for me. We wrastled’ it together quickly and I was up and runnin’ again, when who walks in? Pinetop! He walks right in front of the stage while I’m playing and turns back as says, “hey ain’t that my piano? I thanked him for saving my ass, and he just said “I do the best I can”. After a recent show with Ruthie Foster at the Final Celebration of “The Backyard” Amplitheatre with Willie Nelson and Jimmy Vaughn, Scottie played a solo show at another Austin venue; Nuno’s on 6th. Pinetop was there for the entire show and afterwards told Scottie, “I really dig what you’re doing man”.
It’s a complete package: Well-written tunes sung with heart and commitment. A band that can handle everything from gut-bucket blues to funk to dynamic soul to elegant jazz. “Elixir For The Soul” shows over and over how music can be, and often is, the best tonic around.”
By John Ziegler - Duluth News Tribune - August 2008