As the Steve Miller Band marks the 40th anniversary of the release of its first two albums, it will release its first-ever DVD, “Live From Chicago,” a three-disc set due May 20.
The first disc contains live footage shot in July 2007 at Chicago’s Ravinia Amphitheater during a two-day stand. Disc two takes viewers on a tour of Chicago by way of a first-person documentary that traces Steve Miller’s Chicago blues roots, while the third disc provides bonus audio from the Ravinia gigs.
Portions of the DVD will be broadcast on PBS as part of its spring and summer fundraising drive.
Miller says he initially “wasn’t very interested” in doing a concert DVD but was impressed by the previous work of director/producer Daniel E. Catullo III and producer Jack Gulick.
“I was really pleasantly surprised by them and how much work they put into it and what a great job they did,” Miller says. “I think they really captured the kind of joy and fun and happiness we have at our concerts … doing what we do without too much rock ‘n’ roll posing and that kind of bullsh*t. It’s a really good, straightforward representation of who the Steve Miller Band is and what we do, period.”
Miller and his band are also hoping to release new, blues-oriented recordings shortly. Earlier this year, the group recorded more than three dozen blues tunes on the soundstage at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in northern California. The troupe was joined by Sonny Charles of the Checkmates, who’s now a full-fledged Steve Miller Band member, and Miller tells Billboard.com he hopes to make the recordings available sooner rather than later.
“I think I’m probably just gonna put them on my Web site and sell it that way,” says Miller, who’s grouped the songs into three separate albums. “I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m not too worried about it. I’m just gonna make sure everybody that wants to get it can get it.”
Miller started the project with about 5,000 songs — “Every blues recording ever made,” he says — that he kept on a hard drive and eventually whittled down to the final grouping, which was co-produced by Andy Johns. “It’s such an amazing list of great material. It just makes me laugh every time we put it on,” says Miller, adding that the vast majority are covers.
“There’s a lot of Junior Parker tunes, ‘Next Time You See Me,’ a bunch of Howlin’ Wolf tunes, ‘Who’s Been Talkin’,’ some Delta blues stuff, some John Lee Hooker things, some esoteric stuff, things that you haven’t heard in a long time, some Bo Diddley things like ‘You Pretty Thing’…It’s just incredible what we have here.”
Miller says he plans to trot many of those songs out in concert when his group hits the road for its annual summer tour, which kicks off May 24 in West Palm Beach, Fla., with Joe Cocker opening, and wraps up Aug. 17 in Murphys, Calif.