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Lee Miles' House Party
By Sean Smith
Fort Wayne Reader
Everyone from Grant Lee Phillips and Peter Stuart to Martin Sexton and some guy named Jeff Tweedy have been known to sit down in someone's living room and play some tunes armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar. House shows in Fort Wayne are not very common, but if Lee Miles has his way that's about to change.
Lee has booked Nathaniel Seer, Them Damn Kids, juntau and himself for a house show in his apartment (#3) at 921 W. Berry Street for 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 9th.
"This will be the second show, but I'd like to do them monthly. The first was two months ago and featured Sam Lowry," says Miles.
Putting the shows together seems to have been a pretty easy task and part of that is due to the internet and Myspace.com specifically.
"I found Sam through some people telling me about him on Myspace," admits Miles, "I found Them Damn Kids through Sam. Actually, I found Nathaniel through Sam too. Sam is the central figure here I guess. Myspace had a lot to do with finding everyone."
Lee says it really is as simple as that. When asked how he chooses performers for the shows he says, "Acts that I like from out of town. People request them sometimes if they find them on Myspace or something and I try to have at least one local original act."
This show will feature two local original acts, him and juntau. juntau is perhaps better known to audiences as Matt Dutiel who also spends time playing bass with lo.automatic, a band fronted by Miles. Turns out Dutiel has been playing music for a while now.
"I have been playing music since my freshman year of high school and have picked up a plethora of instruments along the way. I like to play a lot of instruments or at least pretend I know how to play them. I guess I play the guitar, the bass guitar, the harmonica, the clarinet and I try to play keyboards," says Dutiel, "The juntau project started when I was recording a song that I had written for a girlfriend in October of 2005. I was asked to join lo.automatic in May of 2006."
And what about that name?"The name juntau is a nickname that a friend of mine from the local band Blame It On Rio gave me a few years ago while I was part of a band called Arto," says Dutiel, "The name stuck with those guys and now has followed me into my solo music 'career.'"
The music is varied and influences are diverse. "The juntau project is a more fluid, free-form type of project," suggests Dutiel, "I play mostly acoustic guitar, but as of late I have been experimenting with electronic sounds and other instruments. I like it because it really is something that I can play anything I want. I feel like I take from a lot of places. My main influences into songwriting are, as always, the Beatles, but then I would also include Elliott Smith and even Animal Collective. Some stuff almost sounds like the Get-Up Kids acoustic and then some sounds more like Dylan or a more folksy feel."
Dutiel is looking forward to both the show and furthering juntau's success. "I am very excited to play with Nathaniel and Damn Kids. I love experiencing new people and their music," beams Dutiel, "I would like to start recording an album soon and do as much playing as I can. I would love to play music for a living, so I have to start working towards that."
The other two acts on the bill, Nathaniel Seer and Them Damn Kids, are out-of-towners, from Bloomington and Chicago, respectively. Seer has been involved in music from an early age, "When I was 6 or 7, my father started taking me to rehearsals with the gospel choir he sang in. After awhile they let me sing with them and eventually I started performing and touring with them."
It wasn't long before Seer began writing music of his own, "I have been writing songs since about the age of 15. I played in an indie rock band called Man From Andromeda. We had a small but loyal cult following in Evansville. After that I went to school to study violin. I finally became sick of playing music that I didn't write, so I moved to Bloomington to be a songwriter. As a solo artist I have been writing for about three years."
Which is also the amount of time Seer has been touring and playing live. "I have been touring the Midwest, East coast and Southeast. Over the past year I have played between 75-100 shows. I would do it everyday if I could afford it. Although sleeping in my Toyota at Wal-Mart every night can take its toll," admits Seer.
Seer plays these shows to promote his first solo album, "The Killing Task", that has been released on Higher Step Records, located in Evansville. Sam Lowry, yet again, is involved at this point. "I had been playing with Sam Lowry, another songwriter from Bloomington. He is part owner of the label," says Seer, "He and Bob Renock asked to release my debut album this past year, which is available through most online outlets such as Rhapsody and iTunes."
With a sound that calls to mind both Leonard Cohen and Iron & Wine, Seer is building a fan base one town and download at a time. He's also trying to build a future doing what he loves, "I want to write as many good songs as I can before I die. I want as many people as possible to hear me sing these songs before I die. I think most people who put in so much time to make their art, art that may or may not ever be heard or appreciated, really just want to be left alone to do it free from the necessity of a day job. Those don't seem like short-term goals necessarily, but it seems like getting there is a day-to-day sort of task. We'll see."
Rounding out the show, Them Damn Kids will be performing songs from their album, The Day Has Just Begun, released last March. Chris Darby (vocals, guitar), Philip 'Rolland' Gairroes (guitar, vocals), Scott Gibson (drums), Adam Bell (bass), and Stefanie Kohn (vocals, percussion) all came together after Chris and Rolland met while attending Seminary school in Missouri years earlier. The two of them relocated to Chicago in late 2003 and then toured aggressively in 2004 before recruiting the other three last year. Their music is often compared to singer songwriters such as Cat Stevens and Jim Croce and current quiet sensations Kings of Convenience.
You can check out some music from all of the acts on their respective Myspace pages. The visitors decided to keep it simple: www.myspace.com/nathanielseer and www.myspace.com/themdamnkids The home team decided to complicate it a bit: www.myspace.com/therealleemiles and www.myspace.com/dutiel
If you are interested in attending it would be best to show up a little early to get a good spot as seating is limited. It is an apartment we're dealing with, after all. "I can open it up to the majority of the upstairs, which allows for up to 35 folks," Miles says.
Make sure you're one of them.