by LIZA MITCHELL
It’s important to be good at what you do. Local concert promoter Tib Miller strives to do the best he can, not because he has to, but because he loves what he does, and he works hard to make sure others will love it too.
As the founder of Flying Saucer Productions, Miller has developed a new concert series, called the Saucer Series, as a way to showcase the Americana and Bluegrass artists that he loves. The series will be hosted at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall (www.pvconcerthall.com). Miller tips his hat to the creative team at the concert hall for their collaboration in creating such a unique and diverse musical event that celebrates “a big, wide slice of Americana.”
“I have always done what it is that I like in terms of music, and they are clearly doing some compelling things at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. I was delighted to be invited to do this series with them,” Miller says. “It’s a pretty wide net. It’s not excluding rhythm and blues, it’s not excluding country. It’s not excluding rock and roll or bluegrass. It’s a big net that all of those styles can fit comfortably in. It’s Americana. It’s sort of a nice, nonspecific musical bag.”
The Saucer Series kicks off on September 25 with a performance by folk cellist Ben Sollee. Hors d’oeuvres will be provided by several area restaurants, and guests can sample a number of different wines throughout the event. Miller is confident that the audience will not be disappointed, and he hopes that it will help draw them back for more events during the six-month series. “You will hear Ben Sollee play the cello and you will say ‘That is not my mother’s cello.’ Exceptional artistry is sort of tenet number one to get into this series. You’ve got to be an exceptional artist,” he says. “You don’t necessarily have to be recognized the world over, as some of them are more obscure. Some of them have a little gray in the temples, and some of them are young sprouts. But the idea is that it is not confined to a particular age or demographic. It’s wide open.”
Miller says that the Saucer Series is a more extravagant return to the type of events he first promoted in Jacksonville back in the 90s. “This is more ambitious and more diverse,” he says. “That’s why I started doing it and why I continue to do it. It’s sort of natural that this type of lineup came out of that interest.”
The Saucer Series continues through March with performances by a wide variety of artists, some easily recognized and others who fly under the global radar. The common denominator shared by all of the artists across the board is superior musicianship. Included in the lineup are Alejandro Escovedo, Marcia Ball and Her Band, Leon Redbone, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Marshall Crenshaw & the Bottle Rockets, and Leo Kottke. “They all represent interests of mine, and they are artists that I like their style. I think one of the things that I’ve always tried to do is present artists who are clearly strong in their command of their instruments. If you listen to a particular artist, you are going to be impressed by their musicianship and you will respect them for that. That’s what all of these artists have in common. They are all killer at the instrument that they play and what it is that they do. They are all recognized within their particular genre as being exceptional.”
Miller hopes that the Saucer Series will continue to grow into an annual event, but right now, he’s not putting too much energy into the future. He is working on making the present as good as it can be, and he is hopeful that he will find an audience that is willing to share in the experience and come along for the ride. “I’m kind of throwing this out there, and I hope that this catches fire. The key is, does this appeal to people? I think that if you look along the list of artists that you know are going to do well in terms of attendance. And there are others that are kind of a toss-up as to whether someone will come out for them. But I want people to see the series as a whole and think ‘Wow, this is an ambitious lineup. I recognize this guy but I don’t recognize this gal, so I’m going to check them out,’” he says.
“This is a big bag of jelly beans. You reach in, you pick out the black jelly bean because you really like licorice. But you know what? I want you to try the red jelly bean too, because it’s in the same bag, and I’m thinking that you are going to find that equally as tasty.”
"A Big, Wide Slice of Americana"
by LIZA MITCHELL