Ben Miller Band to make annual appearance at Coda Concert House

The Ben Miller Band, which hails from Joplin, is scheduled to play its annual Coda Concert House show at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27.Courtesy | Coda Concert House

It’s called Ozark stomp.

The term was created by musician Ben Miller when, like most artists, he hated how his music was being pigeonholed into a specific genre. The Ben Miller Band’s music isn’t solely post-apocalyptic Americana, he said. Nor is it “rockabilly.” Blues, swing or folk doesn’t quite cut it, either.

So Miller shrugged in the end and came up with a name of his own:

“People would ask us, ‘What kind of music do you make?’ I didn’t have an answer for them. We didn’t really fit into any one area. (So) we called it Ozark stomp.”

Only something called that could ideally describe a harmonious hodgepodge of traditional drums, guitar and trombone blended with the unconditional washtub bass, electric washboard, electric spoons and harmonica.

It’s a sound “that could have only been created right here in the Ozarks,” Miller said during a recent phone interview. “There’s no other sound quite like it anywhere else.”

Joplin’s Coda Concert House will be showcasing this homegrown talent with a 5:30 p.m. concert on Sunday, Jan. 27. It’s been nearly a year since the band performed a sold out Coda show highlighting its early 2018 album “Choke Cherry Tree.”

One of the more successful bands to emerge out of Joplin’s local music scene, the Ben Miller Band — consisting of Miller, Scott Leeper (one-string washtub bass and drums), Rachel Ammons (violin, cello, guitar, accordion) and Bob Lewis (guitar, bass, banjo and washboard) — has been playing gigs of all sizes for nearly 15 years, even touring for a time with ZZ Top and playing all across Europe.

“It sure doesn’t feel that long. It’s gone by fast. You don’t really see the big picture until we look back on the accumulative body of work,” Miller said.

The band’s music has consistently improved primarily because of what Miller calls a “certain level of dissatisfaction” that constantly follows them.

“No matter where you are in life, built into our DNA is a certain level of dissatisfaction,” Miller said. And that’s a good thing, he continued. “If it wasn’t for that dissatisfaction, we wouldn’t push for something further. The funny thing is, when we were touring with ZZ Top in 2013 and opening for 5,000 to 10,000 crowds, it started feeling normal,” and the band is now being pushed “to the next level.”

Miller never rests when it comes to writing songs. Writing, he said, is a creative outlet for him.

“I’m always working on a whole new batch of songs,” he said with a deep chuckle. “I have a ridiculous amount of songs. Some aren’t finished; it’s more like a slow burn, piecing these songs together day by day. It’s an accumulative thing.”

Miller has been a longtime fan of the Coda House, calling it an “amazing place to really get close and personal with people.”

Coda’s Jeff Morrow said no matter how big the Ben Miller Band gets, they always make it a priority to play at the Coda at least once a year.

“It’s a little surreal seeing them on stage with ZZ Top or Buddy Guy one week and playing our tiny stage the next,” Morrow said. “But I think they really appreciate the connection to the fans at Coda.

“For such a small town, we’re so fortunate to have so many great artists from Joplin: Ben Miller, Doug Dicharry, John Moss — the list goes on and on.”

Details: Contact Morrow at info@codaconcerthouse.com for reservations.

Distinct setup

Coda Concert House’s Jeff Morrow said, “We always kid the (Ben Miller Band) that they bring more gear than any other five groups put together, but the truth is it’s only because they are fabulously talented top to bottom. Rachel, Bob, Scott — they all play so many different instruments, they all write, they all front their own bands. To have them on one stage together is truly a sight to behold.”