by Jeff Milo
Photo: MARC NADER
Call it a modest miracle...
Singer/songwriter Ryan Dillaha walked out of Backseat Productions and felt "one of those magical moments when you thing: this is the band!"
Dillaha, an adept warbler of modern bluegrass, rock-rattled blues and folk-frayed Americana, had found his band, The Miracle Men (Tim Rios on drums, harmonica & backing vocals, Michael Millman on the bass, Jason T. Portier riffing electric guitar, Matt Martinez, Roderick Jones and Frank Tyrbon bringing the brass on trombone and tenor sax and trumpet, respectively).
The above-referenced recording session will result in a forthcoming EP titled Awful Blue. You can sample some of Dillaha's work (particularly some fine, frank, throwbacky jams and nostalgic juke-box nocturnes from his Love Alone LP HERE).
"I can't wait for people to hear this stuff," the metro-area music man exclaimed.
We should probably get to the whole traveling church tent revival musical revue / snake-oil salesman type vibe they're aiming to conjure for their tour kick-off show June 28th at the Magic Bag in Ferndale with Oak Bones, 500 Club and John Freeman.
"When we opened for the Deadstring Brothers last time at the Magic Bag," Dillaha says, "I had my standard bow tie/fedora on, and I was wearing a loud red jacket and polka dotted shirt. One of our friends in the crowd told Millman that I looked like one of those traveling salesmen who would "sell snake oil to rubes." I'm not sure how he meant it, but I took it as a compliment."
Spinning off of that "miracle" music theme...
"(Dios) suggested the idea that our logo (and our shtick) could be the idea that we sell a miracle cure. After we talked about it and got some of the ideas fleshed out, it really came to reflect the way that Jason, Mike, Tim and I all feel about music. That snake oil show from town to town was really about the performance, so even though someone walked away with only a bottle of mineral oil, they really paid for the show or the idea that this could cure them. I thought it was a nice metaphor for live music, especially as we are about to hit the road for our first tour. The snake oil idea also had the benefit of being a cultural reference to America's past. Our favorite bands and songwriters all have those references."
Admits Dillaha: "Call yourself the Miracle Men, and you better have some bad ass songs and a bad ass show. It's a bit of a provocation, don't think we can create miracles? Come and see. Just like the old barking snake oil guys..."
More than just these guys, you'll get a 9-piece band for their headlining set, keyboards kicking under a full horn section. Don't expect any ol' folk-rock trip. Dillaha says they're aiming for "a big sound, and a big sweaty dance party too.
Oak Bones and 500 Club opening... "and my great friend Johnny Freeman (from the Codgers) is opening the whole thing with an acoustic set."
"The way things are coming together with the band, and the way songs keep coming to me I'm beginning to believe myself."