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Steve Miller Band delivers variety to Pala audience

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Assessing a genre to describe the Steve Miller Band may result in a declaration that Steve Miller and his musicians are variety artists. Songs such as “Rock’n Me,” “Jungle Love,” and “Jet Airliner” could qualify as rock and roll; “Take the Money and Run” could be considered Southern rock; “The Stake” (sometimes called “Nobody Loves You”) brings blues to the band’s melodies; “Fly Like an Eagle” has elements of folk music; “The Joker” could be designated as a pop song, and “Abracadabra” has a tinge of reggae.

Other songs by the Steve Miller Band may fit other genres, but the eight songs mentioned above are among the 16 performed at Pala Casino’s Starlight Theater during the band’s Oct. 2 concert. The 109-minute concert began with “Stranger Blues,” which was recorded by the Steve Miller Band in an album released in 1993 but was originally an Elmore James song from the early 1960s. Miller prefaced the song by noting that rock musicians are often influenced by blues artists, and the concert included additional blues songs.

Most of the Pala audience looked old enough to have enjoyed many Steve Miller Band classics when they were first played on the radio. They likely expected variety, and they got it.

The Pala concert was three days before Miller’s 79th birthday. “Songs are like plants. They’re like seeds. You put them in the ground. They grow up,” Miller said. “As time goes on these plants begin to change.”

Miller made those comments prior to “Fly Like an Eagle,” which he noted was from 1976. “This is 2022, and this garden has grown so wild,” he said.

The Pala concert version of the song lengthened the instrumental introduction and added a stanza. The concert added variety within the songs they performed.

Miller is not only the only original member of the Steve Miller Band whose first album was recorded in 1968, but he is also the only remaining member from the 1976 Fly Like an Eagle and 1977 Book of Dreams albums which each had three songs that reached the top 25 on the charts.

Current bassist Kenny Lee Lewis joined the band in 1982 and was part of that year’s Abracadabra album. In 1993, keyboardist Joseph Wooten joined the band. Jacob Peterson has been the lead guitar player since 2011. The band added drummer Ron Wikso last year.

In addition to being the lead vocalist, Miller also plays guitar (and harmonica, which was demonstrated during the concert). Miller’s godfather was Les Paul, and Miller talked about Les Paul during the Pala concert.

“He never gave me a Les Paul guitar,” Miller said. “He always told me I had to go out and earn it.”

Miller’s guitars during the concert included a Les Paul guitar. He earned the guitar during his performing career; he earned the appreciation of the Pala fans prior to the concert, and he earned the applause of the fans during the concert. Variety is what helped make Miller prominent, and the reputation he has earned was reinforced Oct. 2.

 

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