Jason Miller has long been in love with what he describes as “the maddening process of songwriting.” The Colorado Springs singer-songwriter was born and raised in Valparaiso, a small Indiana city 45 minutes southeast of Chicago that was also home to Chris Funk of the Decemberists. “We went to high school together, and the jerk wouldn’t even put me on the guest list for Red Rocks,” he says, before adding with a laugh that he never actually asked to be. Miller moved to Colorado Springs in 1995 upon leaving his last duty station at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base, and has since played countless local gigs with his J.Miller Band. “This year I’m slowing down on the bar scene with the band,” he says, “but I hope to play a few shows in and around town with all of my musical friends.” Meanwhile, Miller is planning to launch a few side projects just for fun, and will begin recording his next album of original tunes this coming fall.
First record I bought with my own money: Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen. As a matter of fact, it’s still in my rotation. I rode my bike to the record store in my hometown and laid out approximately 10 bucks for this beauty. Needless to say, the cassette tape eventually broke from continuous motion. I honed my air guitar chops in front of the mirror, along with some dance moves still in my repertoire to this day. This album is timeless. The Boss can make me cry and dance in the same song.
Essential Sunday morning listening: Live at the Old Quarter, Townes Van Zandt. I love Townes and all that his spirit encompassed. He eases me into my day and calms my nerves when I’m feeling stressed. He also lets me wander into the dark when I need to. He is the ultimate companion for reflection. Most importantly, Townes reminds me of what it’s like to truly feel the power of the poet: “We all got holes to fill / Them holes are all that’s real / Some fall on you like a storm / Sometimes you dig your own.”
Artist more people should know about: My friend Joe Johnson. The first time I heard Joe sing a song about his grandma, homemade wine and rocking chairs, I knew I had a friend for life. He has the ability to instantly take me back a hundred years to a simpler time in song. His voice is full of experiences (mostly his own), spirituality, and a fierce loyalty to the delivery of a song in his own unique way. If you appreciate the beauty of a well-crafted song and you can catch him in a quiet room with a guitar, I promise you won’t regret it.
“Wish I could unhear that” song: ANYTHING by Jason Aldean, but especially “Big Green Tractor.”
Guilty pleasure: The soundtrack to Urban Cowboy. It’s one of my all-time favorites, but I don’t spin it in front of people for fear they would judge me or just look at me with a blank inquisitive stare. Let’s recap: Jimmy Buffett, Joe Walsh, Bob Seger, Mickey Gilley, Johnny Lee, The Eagles, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Charlie Daniels and Kenny Rogers. Not to mention two of the best ballad singers ever in Anne Murray and Boz Scaggs. I mean, what am I ashamed of? This soundtrack makes me want to slip on some ostrich boots, a pair of jeans that are just a little too tight, a belt buckle in 24k gold that says “Jason,” and the almighty Stetson.