Live in the Clubs: Kyle Miller lets music speak for itself

Altamont musician Kyle Miller doesn’t like being seen as a novelty. Though only 16, he usually won’t

Altamont musician Kyle Miller doesn’t like being seen as a novelty.

Sure, he’s only 16, and still attends high school while performing shows every month at The Moon & River Café in Schenectady, including an upcoming gig at the venue Thursday night with fellow high school student Mike Campana.

With his glasses and small build, he looks young. And his music, a rootsy blend of blues and singer-songwriter traditions that recalls Bob Dylan or Tom Petty, often sounds generations removed from what other musicians his age play.

But speak with Miller, and his seriousness about music becomes readily apparent. He usually won’t reveal his age at a show, preferring to let the music speak for itself.

“Obviously, when people see me they know I’m younger, but people don’t know how young I am; as long as I don’t have to come out and say it, you know,” he said during a recent interview at the Gazette.

Kyle Miller and Mike Campana

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Moon & River Café, 115 S. Ferry St., Schenectady

How Much: Free

More Info: 382-1938,

“When I do tell people, they come up to me and talk to me first about the material and the songs, and when I tell them my age, the reaction is more like a novelty, which I try to avoid. I’d rather be a novelty because people like the songs.”

Starting to perform

Miller has been performing at The Moon & River Café only since the beginning of this summer. He started out at open mike nights on Sundays, and was quickly booked to perform a full show with Campana. He now plays full shows at the cafe roughly once or twice a month, both solo and with Campana, as well as at open mike nights at the cafe and at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.

“It all just kind of fell into my lap, basically,” Miller said.

So far, audience reception has been positive, although he admitted to some nervousness before his solo and duo shows.

“If you’re in an audience at an open mike, you expect people to be really good or really bad, and if it’s really good, people remember it,” he said.

“Once I started doing my own shows, it was a little bit scarier. Jeez, these people are coming to see me. But I’d be worried if I didn’t get nervous, you know?”

Things have progressed quickly for Miller, who only recently began writing his own material. His repertoire now includes between 10 and 12 originals, including the melancholy “Tent Song” and “A Life in Your Hands,” which can be found on his Myspace page,

He first picked up the guitar at age 12, during the summer before entering high school. But even before that, he had always been a music fan, taking tips from his father’s music collection.

“My dad has a great music collection, so I loved listening to music before I ever played,” he said. “During that summer I was listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan, different things. ‘Clapton Unplugged’ was one of the reasons I began to play guitar.”

At first, Miller taught himself his favorites from artists such as Clapton, Dylan and Wilco, another major influence on him. He soon began playing with his father and his father’s friend at home, and made a few initial forays into songwriting.

“The first song I ever wrote was at the beginning of high school, 9th or 10th grade,” he said. “I had it up on YouTube with a few other songs, and I forgot about it, but once I started writing other stuff I was so embarrassed I destroyed it


The songs he writes now are lyrically oriented, although he composes the music to most of them first. Song lyrics come out of a notebook that he carries around everywhere, in which he writes down ideas.

Album on tap

He also has an album in the works, which he’s been recording at Creek Studio in Saratoga Springs with producer John Nazarenko. He first hooked up with the studio through his Myspace page.

“I had heard about the studio, and added him [Nazarenko] on Myspace,” Miller said. “Later, I got a message from him. . . . He said he liked the tunes and would be interested in recording me, and it’s been going really great. He has an incredible array of equipment, and he’s an amazing piano player; he plays piano on a few of the tracks.”

The CD is nearly completed, and Miller hopes to self-release it by the end of November.

“It’s such an incredible time to be a musician right now, not only because of all the great music that came before, but because anybody nowadays with a laptop and an OK microphone can record a CD,” Miller said.

Categories: Life and Arts

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