Ben Miller Band – Choke Cherry Tree

  • January 25, 2018

The Joplin, Missouri based Ben Miller Band has been making music together since 2005, but it was their third album Choke Cherry Tree on New West Records that really caught my attention. Choke Cherry Tree is a collection of gritty, rocking and introspective songs performed with punk spirit that layer everything from elements of folk and country to fuzzed-out rock and electric boogie blues – dubbed “Ozark Stomp or more recently Mudstomp.” The band’s distinctive sound comes from the collection of homemade instruments that include a one-string washtub bass, an electric cigar box guitar, a microphone made from the receiver of an old rotary telephone mixed with more traditional Americana/Roots music instruments like mandolin, banjo, slide guitar, drums, and fiddle. The band is comprised of founding members Ben Miller (guitar, vocals) and Scott Leeper (one string washtub bass, drummer) and new members Rachel Ammons (violin, cello, guitar, electric cactus, vocals) and Bob Lewis (guitar, bass, drums). The LP also features a number of notable guest appearances from: Jenny Conlee and Nate Query (Decemberists), renowned saxophonist Ralph Carney (Tom Waits, Tin Huey), Dan Hunt (Neko Case), Ural Thomas, Rev Shines (Lifesavas), and more. Album highlights include: the opening track “Nothing Gets Me Down”; the instantly enjoyable single “Akira Kurosawa”; the driving blues tinged “One More Time;” the Rachel Ammons vocally driven track “Redwing Blackbird”; the country ballad “Lighthouse”; and the infectious rocker “Life of Crime.” The Ben Miller Band has a unique sound and perspective on life and Choke Cherry Tree is a great record that is a whole lot of fun. – Written by JFelton



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