Steve Miller - guitar, lead vocals; Norton Buffalo - harmonica; Keith Allen - guitar; Byron Allred - keyboards
Steve Miller was among the major artists who lined up on this 1992 weekend to pay homage to indigenous peoples for an event billed as "All Our Colors: The Good Road Concert, A Benefit for the Traditional Circle of Elders and Youth." Held over two days at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, the concerts commemorated 500 years of survival of the native peoples of the western hemisphere, with appearances by Ry Cooder, Jackson Browne and Santana presented alongside a traditional pow-wow and music from indigenous artists.
Miller used his set to highlight his blues roots: after all, he'd spent his early years on the Chicago club scene, learning the music from the masters. Eventually, he headed to San Francisco where he formed the Steve Miller Band in 1967 and explored the blues within the context of the city's vibrant music scene. Their debut, Children of the Future, received little commercial notice upon its release in 1968. Over the course of continued recordings however, the Miller Band and its leader honed their guitar jam and riff style, and eventually lost the psychedelic tones; by 1973, they'd found themselves a hit with the The Joker. He followed up that album with an even bigger hit, Fly Like An Eagle in 1976, a multi-platinum rock standard, and its companion, Book of Dreams, in 1977.
For much of the '80s and '90s, Miller largely worked as a road dog, touring behind greatest hits collections. For this set, he turned in fresh, acoustic rearrangements of the catalog material on which he'd made his name. A fairly sparse "Fly Like An Eagle," mingled with "par-tay" tunes, as he called them, like "You're So Fine" and K.C. Douglas' "Mercury Blues," which he dedicates to John Lee Hooker, also featured on the bill that day. He dedicated Freddie King's "I'm Tore Down," to Ry Cooder, while throughout his set, Miller was accompanied by his trusty sideman Norton Buffalo, on harmonica. They turn out "Gangster of Love," Miller's own homage to the old time blues styles that inspired him, and "Living in the U.S.A.," his high-energy jam about the American dream, as it was once known. Saving the crowd-pleaser for last, the self-referential "The Joker" can still bring a crowd to its feet, no matter when or where Miller performs it.
Miller would soon record new material on Wide River (1993); in 2010 he finally cut another studio album, Bingo!, to add to his catalog, but the mid-to-late '70s were truly his most prolific years. And yet, this '90s set finds "The Gangster of Love" and the "Space Cowboy" finding new ways to perform old tricks: "The Joker" rides again…