Summertime times 2017

“Other” Art:

Artist Joeseph Wardwell created a gigantic mural titled “Hello America” for the new wing at Mass MoCA, based on selections from Miller’s Mission of Burma song “Fame and Fortune.” In layers of smaller letters are quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Patti Smith, Burroughs, etc..

“Hello America” at MassMoCA. By Joeseph Wardwell.


Alloy Orchestra Upcoming shows:

June 23 and 24: Wilco’s Solid Sound Music and Arts Festival at Mass MoCA
June 30: 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH
July 30: Traverse City Film Festival, Traverse City, Michigan.
Sept: Texas swing likely early on, then Midwest tour begins.

The ensemble’s new film for the fall is the silent Japanese Avant-masterpiece A PAGE OF MADNESS. Set entirely in an insane asylum, half the time one is viewing the world from the inmates’ point of view. This is a perfect vehicle for Alloy’s improvisational mayhem. Truly psychedelic. The BluRay with Alloy’s score is available at their on-line store.

Page of Madness with score by Alloy Orchestra. Flicker Alley.


Trinary System:

Upcoming shows:

Wed., July 12: Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain. With the amazingly high-energy Fully Celebrated Orchestra.
This is Trinary System’s last show before they go into the studio to record their first full-length the end of July. Makin’ sure they are lubed up for the sessions.

It’s hard to explain how things move in a band that plays so rarely (the first release was recorded after a total of 6 gigs). But because the band plays so rarely, each gig is a landmark. As such, the show at Midway Cafe in J.P. on March 8 was where the band reached a new level of relaxed confidence, and this was obvious in the following shows. By the time Trinary System hit the Sinclair stage in April (where Burma played 5 years earlier) there was no concern at all – they just played because they knew what they were up to. Now it’s time for an album.

Noise Floor, May 2017, review of Apr.28 Sinclair show:
“Trinary System, a power trio led by Roger Miller, was on first with an excellent set of jams that fell somewhere between Marquee Moon and a more experimentally-minded deconstruction of Miller’s work in the venerable Boston art-punk unit Mission of Burma.”

Trinary System at the Sinclair, April 2017. Photo by Tim Bugbee.


Guitar Lessons:

Tonereport: 9 Essential Post-punk Guitarists.
Mr. Miller is listed at number two.

Guitar Lessons continue, mostly via Skype. If interested, click here.


As a Composer:

Miller has begun a Viola Sonata inspired by hearing the RAHA piano/viola duo perform his “In Natura” in April. As is his mode these days, he is utilizing natural phenomena for organizational purposes. Two photographs of lighting (thanks Tom Sholz!) and one of clouds he took in Vermont form the basic structural form. Audio peaks in recordings of a camp fire and a fountain tumbling into a pond form some of the basic rhythmic gestures of the piano pulses and viola melodies.

Miller’s Davis Square Symphony, which received an Awesome Foundation award earlier this year, is on-going and nearing completion.

Viola Sonata Part I (Lightning Music), first page.



In the summer of 1975 I was sequestered in the Bay City area of Michigan, trying to make a living as performing musician (still working on that…). I played bass guitar in a quartet I did not start. We started out as a jazz-rock fusion band, performing covers and originals the guitarist wrote. During my 3-week stint in the band we morphed from that into a quite good Top-40 cover band. I quit shortly after we were offered a set of “stage costumes” to choose from, after which we’d make “really good money.”

The most interesting and terrifying moment in this band was as follows:
We played one venue almost every night, 3 sets. On one particular occasion, a biker club/gang from this part of Michigan hired out the venue as a memorial for one of their members who died in a crash the previous week. We were on-stage with 300 leather-clad bikers in the audience, definitely not the friendliest bunch. At one point, they “requested” we sing a song about death. We decided to do a blues, and it fell to me to do the singing. As the song got going, I made up some cliched lines about death: “no one wants to die”, that sort of thing. Almost immediately, the entire group of 300 leather-clad bikers was bawling in each others’ arms, sobbing uncontrollably. We were both terrified and amazed. We had to complete the song of course, and the bawling did not stop until it was over. That was quite possibly the strongest reaction I ever got to a song I made up on the spot.



Five Lady Slippers and Deb (Maidstone Park, VT).