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Joe's Story: Last in Line for Allison Miller

Joe Smith was born with it. He was born with talent, creativity, and musical genius. Inspiration for him comes from many places. Below he writes about one of his idols and that fateful day where he almost missed his chance to see her because he was last in line. He's been working hard on his own music career as well, and his newest track and video was just released. Check out his video at the end and share if you're so inclined.

I tried to be firstinline for the Allison Miller show at An Die Musik in Baltimore a few years back. Allison is an incredible musician and a former student of the late, great, Walter Salb Jr., a jazz drummer in the Washington D.C area.

Back when I was in high schooI is when I first remember going to Walter’s house with his grandson T.J Salb - a great writer and thinker in his own right. As soon as we started talking about music, Walter would proudly inform us about Allison’s most recent tour with a big name artist. The first big name I remember hearing was Natalie Merchant. Walter would talk passionately about Allison’s impeccable timing and sense of musicality. Then, he would offer us some spaghetti and tell us to get the hell out. 

That was my first introduction to who would become one of my musical heroes. I researched Allison online and found out she was then on a world tour, yes WORLD tour with the one Ani DiFranco! I didn't know much of Ani’s music, but I had heard her name countless times and knew exactly what she looked like. I found out that Allison recorded on the album “Both Hands” by Ani DiFranco. I watched a video of the song being recorded and there was Allison Miller, smiling and playing drums and bongos. I became a fan instantaneously.

I began to check YouTube every month or so for new videos of Allison drumming with a variety of artists. She was proficient in jazz, rock, country, hip-hop and even a little bit of that D.C go-go. I was spellbound by the tasteful drumming and virtuosity that she possessed with every stroke of the sticks.

Fast forward two years. I saw on her website that she was performing in Baltimore with her quartet “Boom Tic Boom.” I knew I had to check it out. I embedded the date in my brain and anticipated the concert with great ardency. 

Sometimes music fans, like myself, think we have the inside scoop on all things eclectic and underground. I figured I was the coolest dude in the area that night. Though I hoped for a great turnout, one never knows what to expect. I arrived at the venue forty-five minutes early to see a line wrapped around the building. The venue held only seventy-five people. I was last in line and the last person to get a ticket. 

It was one of the best musical performances I have ever seen. It started out with her playing a four minute drum solo that was so creative, explosive, and in the moment. I was transfixed and transported to another place. Since then I have seen her perform three times. Pretty much anytime she performs in the area which is once per year.

I would have loved to have been firstinline so I could sit up front and observe a talented genius tapping into one of the greatest forces in the world: music. Thank you Walter Salb Jr. Thank you T.J Salb IV. Thank you Allison Miller. Next time, I’ll be firstinline."

(Allison has played, recorded and toured with: Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, Lonnie Smith just to name a few.) 

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