Uma’s Ultimate Kona Konnection is a column that covers the music scene of Kailua Kona. This week’s focus is on David Mark Miller, a newly transplanted keyboard and bass player. He plays this Saturday (November 23) at Laverne’s with Green Machine for their Led Zeppelin tribute show from 7-10 p.m.
The music business is such a fickle mistress. Recently, I reluctantly turned down a prime spot due to a scheduling conflict with a private party. I even met with David Mark Miller to discuss our upcoming songs. I should’ve checked about the possibility of moving the party date; little could I have known that shortly thereafter the party got cancelled. And so, goes the business of music. ‘Get that deposit’ is the hard lesson I learned. Working with David Mark Miller has already proved to be a joy, but so far, we have yet to play together. He’s currently playing in Bottle of Blue with my husband on bass and guitar; it’s easy to hear how talented DMM is! His keyboard riffs are spot on, as they sound like the original recording and sometimes better! His bass playing is top notch as well. He makes playing music look so effortless.
Getting a music interview whilst listening to live music is not a recommendation I can make, as the recording I made has now completely disappeared! So, I must rely on my brain! I did have some burning questions for David, and he was happy to respond.
How long have you been in Kona?
I bought property here a year ago, and I’ve been coming here off and on for the last year from Vegas.
How long have you been playing music?
I started at about age eight, so somewhere around fifty years.
What instruments do you play?
Keyboards and bass. I started on trombone and took piano lessons. I started playing bass at 20. I haven’t had any formal lessons; I just felt I could play it and I could!
What inspires your music?
Music Inspires my music, I get song ideas and I follow through on them. Those ideas become original music.
How many bands are you playing in now?
I’ve played with Bottle of Blue and with Amanda Avila. She subbed in my band Venus Rising at the Excalibur on the Vegas Strip. I occasionally sit in with Green Machine. I’m doing a Led Zeppelin tribute show with them at Laverne’s this Saturday.
What’s your biggest dream music-wise or have u already accomplished it?
To play in the UmaZuma Band! (Best answer yet!) I’m just following the journey and seeing where it leads.
Is it too easy playing in some groups? What would challenge you?
No, whether it’s hard or simple music, I enjoy playing with other people, the groove of it all. Progressive rock or jazz would challenge me.
What types of music do you like to play the most?
I’ve mostly played in rock and Top 40 groups. I write in many different genres, lots of classical & jazz compositions that haven’t been played out live. They’re just studio recordings.
Would you like to play them live?
That would be fun but it boils down to what venues want. So far, it’s been mostly covers, especially in Vegas.
Who are your musical influences?
Wow, there are so many! In the jazz realm it’s Keith Jarrett, Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny Group, George Duke and definitely Jeff Lorber. I’m a huge Beatles fan, I listen to them daily. Other pop and rock music faves include Steely Dan, Heart, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Toto, The Tubes, Jellyfish. For singer songwriters it’s Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Norah Jones, James Taylor. I really enjoy the prog-rock of the 70’s like early Genesis, Kansas, ELP and bands with Bill Bruford as the drummer, like early Yes and U.K.
Tell me about your musical career and highlights so far.
I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston in the mid 70’s, which really jumpstarted everything, especially my writing. I moved to Alaska in the early 80’s and played in top 40 rock bands, sometimes seven nights a week. There was quite a live music scene there at that time. And all those great songs from the 80’s, I played them when they were new! On the side, I started doing original music for TV commercials and scoring Discovery channel type videos about Alaska. I moved to Vegas in ‘95 and during my 23 years there played at just about every venue in town. It was a great run, working in so many different projects. I’ve had my original music used in over 100 radio and TV commercials. Some of my original music has been used in network TV shows, I had a piece in an episode of Scrubs.
Any closing thoughts?
I’m looking forward to meeting all the musicians on the island. I’d definitely like to collaborate with people doing original music, especially singer-songwriters. People can check out a few of my originals at soundcloud.com/davidmarkmiller. I haven’t done much with Facebook lately, but may get back to it now that I’m here. You can reach out to me on Facebook, or email: [email protected]
Perhaps I will have to learn some of David Mark Miller’s jazz and classical original tunes in order to play out with him or find another date when my other guys are busy! I trust that it always works out one way or another; maybe I will have to hire him to record in the studio. He told me he used to play one of my fave Swing Out Sister hits back in the day, so there’s always that to look forward to…and picking his brain on how to get music into films & TV!!
Love Guru Uma sings and performs solo acoustic ukulele – lately on the NEXT music app (Saturdays at noon & Wednesdays or Thursdays at 6pm) and at weddings on the beach with the Kona Wedding Officiant. She also sings in her 4-piece UmaZuma Band, which performs rock & soul at Korner Pocket in Kealakekua November 23 from 8-11 p.m. She loves performing any chance she can, including in a duo with her husband, with upcoming shows at the Blue Dragon 6:30-9:30 on Dec. 8, New Thought Center in Kealakekua 9:45am-11:30am on Dec. 15 & at the Honokaa Public House Dec. 21 from 7-10 p.m. Uma enjoys staying busy as a substitute teacher, Uber driver, Tour guide and self-published author. She’s working on #3 in a series of adventure love story and self-help reads entitled Love is Crazy – Lessons in Love: Creating your own Happy Ever After and Love is Crazy Satisfying. More at umaojeda.weebly.com