‘The Boy from Valdese’
Hailing from the Western North Carolina town of Waynesville,
Milan Miller has been in the music business for quite some time now.
About 15 years ago, he moved to Nashville, where he was in various bands, including Jubal Foster with Buddy Melton, who would go on to be in the currently popular bluegrass group, Balsam Range.
In recent years, both Miller and Melton would find success in the bluegrass world simultaneously, with Miller being nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association Song of the Year for the last two years in a row for his original compositions and Melton and Balsam Range winning IBMA Album of the Year and Song of the Year honors.
It is a project that Miller and Melton worked on together, however, that is getting the attention in the spring of 2014.
On April 7, the great IBMA Hall of Fame guitarist and bass player George Shuffler died at 88 years of age. Shuffler is best known for his decades of work with fellow IBMA Hall of Famers The Stanley Brothers. While playing with Ralph and the late Carter Stanley, Shuffler’s walking bass lines and unique style of guitar playing called cross-picking became legendary.
A year before Shuffler died, Miller wrote a song about him, called “The Boy from Valdese,” which was about Shuffler’s career and lifetime spent in the North Carolina town of Valdese, located about an hour south of Boone. Shuffler heard the song before dying and was moved by it.
The song was written by Miller for an historical project that he worked on about Burke County, with Melton and Mark W. Winchester. Before Shuffler died, the song was re-recorded, featuring musicians Miller on guitar and vocals, Melton on fiddle, Terry Baucom on banjo, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Carl Jackson on tenor vocals and George’s brother, Ron Shuffler, on bass.
After Shuffler’s death last month, Miller decided to give away “The Boy from Valdese” for free. You can listen to and download the song by going to SoundCloud.com and typing the song’s title into the search box.
Miller was a resident of Boone both during and after his time as an Appalachian State University student, and it grew to be one of his favorite parts of the world.
“I went to Appalachian State and stayed there for three years after I graduated, so I spent about seven years in Boone before I moved to Nashville,” Miller said. “My years there were absolutely great. I adore Boone. I married a girl from West Jefferson, so I get to go back there a few times a year, so we’ll always get to hang out and visit friends in Boone. I have nothing but the fondest memories of living there. The winters can be pretty rough, but summertime in Boone, I think, is the greatest place on earth.”
One part of living in the High Country that inspired Miller’s future life as a musician was getting to see and hear Doc Watson play on a regular basis.
“One of the perks of living in Boone is I lived out on the Deep Gap side of town, and we’d go and see Doc Watson playing out at the Wildcat Flea Market,” Miller said. “He would play on Friday nights. Where else on the planet can you do this, just seeing Doc sitting around picking a guitar somewhere? That, in and of itself, aside from being the cool little college town that it is, was a great part of living there.”
More information on Miller and his music can be found at http://www.milanmillermusic.com.