Add a dash of cayenne to a sweet blend of rootsy musical genres, and you come close to perfecting the sonic recipe that David Michael Miller calls Southern soul.
The New York singer-songwriter is putting his spicy combination of blues, R&B, gospel and Americana back on The Blu Pig’s musical menu next week, as he returns for an eclectic show on Friday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m.
Miller’s work on a recent solo album – much of which he recorded with vintage equipment – earned him praise from rising bluesman Selwyn Birchwood, who called him as diverse as he is soulful.
It also deepened his connections with veteran musicians who have played for the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and Buddy Guy.
At the time he set out to record “Same Soil,” Miller hadn’t really thought about putting a band together. But he said he just clicked with the artists he recruited to brings his songs to life, including saxophonist Jason “Jay” Moynihan, who has since become his right-hand man.
Miller saw Moynihan perform once at a Buddy Guy show, and they later performed together at a Labor Day jam, hitting it off at once. After Moynihan returned to the Buffalo area in western New York and married his high school sweetheart, Miller brought him in to perform on a previous solo album.
“I always tell people that Buffalo has a deep bench for great musicians,” he said.
Despite his deep ties to that area, Miller was more likely at one time to look to the other end of the country for musical inspiration.
“Ironically, it was the Seattle scene that really got me into the blues,” he said.
A Soundgarden cover of an old blues tune piqued his interest in the genre, and proved to be his gateway to the songs of Howlin’ Wolf and Jimmy Reed, as well as contemporaries like Jonny Lang.
In hindsight, though, his journey from grunge to more traditional-sounding music wasn’t that much of a stretch for him: He grew up listening to church hymns, gospel tunes and modern Christian songs, and he was even composing and performing his own church-inspired albums by the age of 12.
“That had always been in my ears, even when I gravitated toward what I listened to on the radio,” he said.
Coming from a church background, he settled on an unironic, pretense-free name for his new band: Miller and The Other Sinners.
“It just kind of connects with this idea that we all have our issues,” he said.
Judging by his beliefs, he takes after his father, who works for The Salvation Army.
At his father’s invitation, one of the band’s stops on its Calling All Sinners Tour was The Salvation Army in Columbus, Ohio, where they gave away free copies of their CDs to men who were enrolled in its adult rehabilitation program.
They first got the word out about the CD dropoff through social media sites, and thanks to the generosity of their fans and friends in their home base, they raised enough money to give away 100 CDs.
Miller said the visit was one of the highlights of the band’s time on the road.
“If we can shake them out of their mind-set for a minute, I want to be a part of it,” he said.
Although that group of men has since moved on, Miller said he hopes to do the same for others who are working to put their lives back together.
“I love those kinds of opportunities,” he said. “This is something that we’d like to make a regular part of our tour.”
Miller and The Other Sinners to perform at Blu Pig on Feb. 5
“Ironically, it was the Seattle scene that really got me into the blues.”
When: Friday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m.
Where: The Blu Pig, 811 S. Main St.
The Blu Pig is located at 811 S. Main St. For more information, go to www.davemillermusic.com/home.