The Conservatorium’s Coffs Harbour Guitar Festival is coming up in June. We spoke with one of the visiting artists, Adam Miller, about his life as a guitarist…
Your biggest influence is…
The major ones have been guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, Charlie Hunter and Bill Frisell. I first heard a Tommy Emmanuel album when I was 10 and I just loved the fact he wasn’t singing with his voice, but with his guitar. It founded my love of instrumental music and pursuing a high level of expertise on the guitar. That led to me performing and touring with Tommy from when I was 19 years old.
Charlie Hunter is one of the most innovative guitar players on the planet. He created a hybrid eight-string instrument in which he plays bass and guitar at the same time! It takes finger style guitar to a whole other level, but what I loved most was that it made it possible to play styles of music that were more relevant to me. I play one of Charlie’s old guitars and will be performing with it at the festival!
Describe your most memorable on-stage moment …
The first would honestly be every time I do my own show! A huge recent moment for me was doing a show at 55 Bar in NYC in early 2014. 55 Bar is a famous modern Jazz venue, although it’s a very small place (fits maybe 60 people uncomfortably!); it has so much history, and I’ve seen many amazing shows there. Not only was it surreal to perform there, but I also had a dream band in Tony Mason on Drums (Charlie Hunter, John Scofield), and Andy Hess on Bass (John Scofield, Robben Ford).
You have played with Les Paul; tell us about that experience.
I was in NYC for the first time in 2007 and really just checking out the whole place. I spoke to a few people through the day, and they said lots of people take guitars in for Les to sign, so I thought I’d just turn up with a guitar. When I got to the door of the club, they said that the shows that evening were already sold out. I said jokingly that “I’m one of the guest artists this evening”…Well, they took me seriously and escorted me into the club and back stage! Les was eating his dinner and looked up and asked who I was. I said I’m from Australia and had played with Tommy Emmanuel quite a bit. He then said, “Well, what are we playing together tonight?” I then guested for a few songs in the shows that night! So I totally bluffed my way in!
He got me up in each set and made me play a song solo first. He took the time to make sure I knew that the audience came first and entertaining them was his number one priority. That night really changed my life!
Where is the most amazing place that you’ve played, and why?
That would be Tarin Kot, Afghanistan. I’ve had the incredible experience of being able to perform twice for the Allied Forces there. The rugged mountain landscape, the truck stage and tank served as an amazing backdrop! Performing to a sea of camouflage uniforms and rifles was a very proud moment.