American singer/songwriter Michael Miller will be giving a free concert at the ALIF Riad this Friday night, October 31 at 7.30 PM. His expressive melodies and lyrics are largely inspired by love-gone-wrong.While unhappy relationships may be hard on the heart, they are good for creativity, says the Los Angeles based Miller. "My songs are good, sad, heartbreak songs. They are actually hopeful songs, but other people interpret them as heartbreaking."
Yet Miller has reason to be happy with his life. While he is playing solo on this trip to Morocco, back home his regular band is formed of a floating group of top drawer musicians, including drummer Butch Norton and bassist David Sutton, who also both play with Lucinda Williams; and guitarist Jason Roberts, who also plays with Norah Jones.
He lives near the beach in Los Angeles, and wakes up to the sound of the ocean. Born in LA, Miller's parents headed for Northern California when he was young, and he made his way back to the big city when he was old enough to have the choice. He grew up in a musical household.
“My mother performed and sang professionally with her sisters and toured state fairs and made regular appearances on television and radio shows," he says. "There was constant singing in the Miller house. I can remember her rocking me to sleep with the Mockingbird lullaby, sweet a cappella hymns each Sunday at church, backseat harmony choruses on our long, summer vacation road trips. It was as natural and normal as exhaling or eating or laughing.”
Having learned guitar as a teenager, Miller began to write songs seriously while in his twenties. Regular travelling has also been a source of inspiration. "I love getting lost, literally, in strange lands, diving in and immersing myself in the local culture...It’s sort of like soul mining. I get to go dig for beauty and truth in other people’s backyards and the discoveries and treasure-finds typically end up in my songs in some way.”
In Fez for a month, hosted by the American Language Center, Miller believes that Moroccan traditional society has much to offer. "In the West, we are spinning; trying to achieve empty pursuits...I come from a traditional family; a slower way of living, so I can understand how things are here. At first, when you come in with a Western way of doing things, you think, "Hurry up. But hurry up for what? Life is one long thing.
"All artists question why they make art, and if it will endure. And then you come here and you see that art is a part of life."
When: Friday October 31 at 7.30 PM
Where: ALIF Riad, 6 Derb Drissi, Fez Medina.