Steve Miller and Peter Frampton are in the midst of their second summer touring together, joining forces each night to jam through some blues covers in addition to their own individual sets. And they’re planning to give fans a recorded souvenir of those collaborations.
Miller tells Billboard that every show is being recorded and that the two are “putting a record together now” that will showcase their performances of songs such as Freddie King‘s “Same Old Blues,” Elmore James’ “Stranger Blues,” K.C. Douglas’ “Mercury Blues,” Otis Rush’s “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)” and more. “Jamming together has turned out to be a real interesting thing,” Miller says. “We’re just having fun. It’s an added bonus to the tour, just a really, really great musical combination. [The record] is pretty much everything we’ve jammed from last year up through this year. … As we go on we’ll add more tunes — some Muddy Waters things and some Ray Charles things. We’re going through all of our favorite blues tunes and playing them.”
Miller isn’t hazarding a guess about when the album will surface, however, though he guesses “probably in the next year. We’ve assembled a lot of it, and we’re listening to it and we’re going, ‘Oh, that’s a really good take. Oh this is really great.’ And when it’s done it’s done, and that’s when we’ll put it out.”
Album or not, Miller says he and Frampton are enjoying being on the road together now as much, if not more, than they did last year. “I think the main thing is it was so much fun, a really, really beautifully balanced show,” Miller says. “I met [Frampton] when I recorded my first album at Olympic Studios [in London], so it’s been 50 years. It’s a very exciting part of the show, when Pete comes out and we play together, and we’re getting a lot of requests to do more shows so we said, ‘Let’s run this thing. We won’t have to stop it until it’s time to stop.'”
The Frampton album isn’t the only recording project Miller is working on these days, either. The 50th anniversary of his first two albums this year has sent him back to the vaults — reluctantly, he says, because “I’m hypersensitive about it. I’ll go, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t want to release that,’ and other people will say, ‘Yeah, you should release that. What’s wrong with you?'” And to his surprise Miller has been intrigued by some of what’s been unearthed by the sonic spelunking.
“Once I got into it I’ve enjoyed it and have realized some of the really good work we did and all the great people I’ve worked with and all these things. That’s been interesting,” Miller notes. “Fifty years — It’s amazing how fast a life goes by. So we’re trying to gather all the outtakes and interesting bits that weren’t released and songs that were recorded that were never released, and we found some really good stuff.” Miller is also compiling a coffee-table-style photo book to accompany whatever archival release surfaces, most likely during 2019.
And there is new Miller music, some of which fans can hear playing over the PA at concerts before Miller and his band take the stage. “I’m always writing stuff and working on things,” he says, “but there’s a part of me that goes, ‘I don’t want to put out a record and sell, like, 9,000 copies,’ I’m trying to fight with that. And I talk to Wynton [Marsalis], and he’s like, ‘Man, you just gotta release everything, you know, because it’s the record you leave. A hundred years from now, people will know what you were doing. The people that didn’t record get forgotten.’ And I’m not so worried about being remembered or forgotten, but that’s part of it now — just getting it all on tape. So there’s miles of performance, of every jam, of every spontaneous idea, like, ‘Hey, let’s play this tonight, let’s do that…’ There’s hours of that kind of stuff. I just don’t know who wants to hear all of that. But apparently they do.”