Still metabolizing the last bits of barley, hops and potato salad from Saturday’s incredible Bay Brewed, I somehow managed to crawl to the Starry Plough the very next afternoon. It was an increasingly rare chance to hear Scott Miller. His band Game Theory helped get me through the 80s, plus they slept in my college living room in ’89! Their 1982 debut album, Blaze of Glory (recorded in his bedroom in Sac) and 1985s Real Nighttime remain my favorites, but Big Shot Chronicles from 1986 does contain several brilliant tunes including “Erica’s Word” featured above.
Before Game Theory, Miller made 2 hard to find recordings with Alternate Learning. After Game Theory, Miller regrouped as The Loud Family and made records right up through 2006. Last year, he wrote his first book entitled ‘Music: What Happened?’. The second edition was just released. The book presents a peek inside his brain and record collection with a little blurb about each of his favorite songs from the past 53 years. It begins in 1957 with Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” and ends with Joanna Newsom’s “On a Good Day” from 2010.
The show kicked off with Scott solo on electric guitar. He read briefly about “Moon River” before playing a spirited version sounding more than ever like his idol, the late great Alex Chilton. Next he tore into the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. Many a full band has botched this deceptively simple classic yet he managed to pull it off all alone channeling John Lennon as only a seriously devoted fan could do. After a few of his own songs he was joined by a second guitar courtesy of opening act, Oakland’s Bye Bye Blackbirds. Eventually more Blackbirds flew to the stage providing bass and drums. Ultimately the drums were taken over by original Game Theory drummer Gil Ray-a very special treat!
Let’s hope to see moremoremore from Mr. Miller. A Game Theory reunion perhaps? My living room is available.