Coverage: Steve Miller Band proves he’s ‘The Joker’ at Whistle Pig show |

Coverage: Steve Miller Band proves he’s ‘The Joker’ at Whistle Pig show

By Tricia Swenson and Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to the Daily

The Steve Miller Band and Marty Stuart show at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater on Wednesday, Aug. 14 was a hit. Here’s the Vail Daily’s coverage of the event, with a bullet-point highlights reel from Tricia Swenson. Scroll down for a full-length review from contributor Kimberly Nicoletti.

Number of people: The amphitheater had over 2,000 people come out for the show.

Hometown shoutouts: Steve Miller expressed how beautiful the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater was, and then said he hoped they’d be able to catch their breath at this altitude. But, Miller did say he lived in Ketchum, ID for 30 years, so he knows how the altitude can affect performances.

Biggest hits: With a career that has spanned over 50 years, the Steve Miller Band has a lot of hits, but “The Joker,” “Jet Airliner,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Rockin’ Me” and “Swing Town” definitely got the crowd out of their seats and singing along with the band.

Audience participation: At the end of “Fly Like an Eagle” bassist Kenny Lee Lewis got the crowd to clap along in unison to the beat.

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Biggest laugh/applause: The suspense was building as the audience was trying to figure out which songs the band would close with. Up next came “The Joker” and after that Miller said, “perhaps one more” to which the crowd responded with a large round of applause and cheers. With that, they went into the introductory riff of “Jet Airliner” and the dancing continued in the seats and on the lawn and people sang the song word for word.

Tender moment: Miller paused to dedicate the fourth song in the set list. “We want to dedicate this to all the armed forces around the world, doing the hard work. It’s called “Living in the USA.”

Best musical moment: Miller brought on opening act, Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives in what Miller called “classic rock meets classic country” and played a few country, rock and blues tunes together. At the end of the two band’s stint together on stage, Miller said, “this is what happens when you mix blues and country and rock and roll, and this is what happens when you go out to San Fran and drop some acid,” and the band went straight into the psychedelic sounds of “Wild Mountain Honey.” 

Best unplanned moment: After the band opened with “The Stake”, Miller had broken a string on his guitar and before they could go into the next song, he said, “Ouch! I need to get another Stratocaster” and was given another guitar within milliseconds. Then, the band broke into “Jungle Love.” Side note, Steve Miller has owned up to 450 guitars at one time.

Most memorable quote: Miller ended the hour-and-a-half-plus show sending off the audience that consisted of everyone from seniors in high school to senior citizens with “Peace, love and happiness! Take care of each other!”

Here’s the full-length review from Nicoletti.

The rich, old-soul vocals of bluesman Matt Woods kicked off Wednesday night’s Whistle Pig concert, which ultimately featured psychedelic classic rocker Steve Miller.

Before Miller took the stage at 9:15 p.m., Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives demonstrated their prowess with fusions of surf rock, country, folk and Texas blues.

Stuart, a four-time Grammy Award-winning country music artist, respects and collects the musical tradition that came before him. He owns one of the largest private collections of country music memorabilia in the world, so it’s only fitting his bandmates showed up on the Ford Amphitheater stage in old-school, powder blue suits all a’ sparkle in sequins and rhinestones.

After Stuart warmed up the crowd, each of the three band members took his turn at center stage. Their harmonies and instrumentation proved Stuart isn’t the only highly talented man in the rhinestone-cowboy band. Near the end of the band’s 45-minute stint, Stuart asked the audience which Johnny Cash song they wanted to hear.

“I know them all,” the 60-year-old said, telling the audience he played in Cash’s band — but not mentioning he landed such a gig at the young age of 21.

His deep rendition of “Ring of Fire,” along with the rest of the set, garnered Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives a standing ovation by most in the filled amphitheater, and while they cranked out the tunes, plenty of people two-stepped.

Miller’s might

Miller energetically performed his greatest hits during his 90-plus-minute set, beginning with the familiar riff of “The Stake,” followed by “Jungle Love.”

Miller killed it on his harmonica after dedicating “Living in the USA” to military personnel. He continued to deliver his characteristically strong vocals throughout the show, except for a few moments. Age on his vcoal chords was most noticeable during “Abracadabra,” when Miller’s band members seemed to drown out the ’70s hit singer as his voice faded in and out a bit.

Miller introduced early music’s migration through a rhythmic outline, which rolled into his robust blues.

When he invited Stuart and his band onto the stage, the glittered musicians added yet another full-bodied dimension to “Loving Cup,” followed by some toe-tappin’ classic country and a twangy “Dance, Dance, Dance.” As the nine artists harmonized and played around the stage, it was obvious they were having a great time, a sentiment affirmed by Miller when he said this summer on the road with Stuart and the Superlatives has been the most fun of his 52-year touring career.

After three songs with Stuart and his band, Miller introduced “Wild Mountain Honey” as the result of taking acid in San Francisco and launched into the sweetly mesmerizing groove. Then, Miller swung the pendulum and rocked into “Take the Money and Run” before settling back into the soaring vibe of “Fly Like an Eagle.”

In many of the songs Miller performed Wednesday, he focused on extensive instrumentals. And, of course, he made his guitar sing and scream in its signature manner, paired with his welcoming ease.

Miller granted the audience a rousing four-song encore fittingly with “Rock’n Me” and “Swingtown,” highlighted by a call and audience response: “Ooo oooohhhh…”

The already enthusiastic crowd roared, sang and moved to Miller’s iconic hit, “The Joker,” and Miller took his last satisfying struts across the stage with “Jet Airliner.” Along the musical tribute to his mostly 1970s hits, Miller underscored the message of his 1986 single, “I Want to Make the World Turn Around,” reminding people to build the world up and stop tearin’ it down – a point perhaps even more poignant today than it was decades ago.

Next up in the series

  • Aug. 19: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats with Hiss Golden Messenger
  • Sept. 2: Bon Iver with Sharon Van Etten
  • Sept. 5: Gary Clark Jr. with Los Coast
  • Sept. 18: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit with Amanda Shire

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