‘Looping’ artist takes Turnage stage Friday

Published 6:52 pm Thursday, July 6, 2017

Jeff Miller spends between 70 and 100 days a year on the road, part of three tours and many performances that run the gamut from house concerts to big stages. Friday, he’ll be on the Turnage stage at 7 p.m., sharing his genre-spanning music: classic rock, with elements of folk and jazz.

“I’m excited to come back. It was one of the highlights of my tour two years ago,” Miller said.

Miller is known for the unique ability of looping: recording a musical phrase live, then playing it back on repeat, then adding successive recordings on top of previous ones — layers of music and harmonies that give one man the sound of an entire band.

The Nashville, Tennessee-based acoustic guitarist just released his fifth album, “Loops,” but when it comes down to it, he prefers a live audience.

“I think for me I guess … I guess I’d say it validates what I do,” Miller said. “I value music anyway, but just seeing the way it touches others, reading people’s faces, when they talk to me after the shows. Aside from that, I do just enjoy playing music.”

Looping adds to it, as the process is both cutting-edge technical and a means by which to engage with the audience.

“I’ll think, ‘What can I do in this song that will kind of grab people?’” Miller said. “I’ll explain what I’m doing — sometimes that will turn the crowd, because they realize I am doing a lot of stuff.”

Miller didn’t start out on guitar. In fact, he started his musical career with violin lessons at the age of 5, in an effort to keep up with what his older brother was doing. He stuck with violin (his brother didn’t), and in fourth grade, he was introduced to trombone in a music class, but not willingly, he said. Instructors asked what instruments students wanted to play, but unfortunately for Miller, they called the kids by alphabetical order.

“By the time they had gotten to the m’s in the alphabet, they already had too many kids say they wanted to play saxophone,” Miller said, adding that trumpet and trombone were the options he was given. “People don’t gravitate toward the trombone too much.”

It turned out to be a good choice, however. With no frets on a violin and no keys on a trombone, it helped him create a good ear, Miller said.

It was in high school that Miller picked up guitar, and while he can play several instruments, guitar and looping have become his passion.

“The big thing about playing guitar was having an instrument I could write songs on. It’s not really possible on the violin and definitely impossible on the trombone,” Miller said.

This is Miller’s second visit to the Turnage Theatre — his first performance came courtesy of some local fans who ran into him first on Ocracoke, then tracked him down later in New Bern.

Jeff Miller can be seen at the Turnage Theatre Friday night. Tickets are $13 at the door.