Courtesy of Daniel Dye
When Daniel Dye is not lecturing in English for the Education and Human Ecology Department at Ohio State, he fronts a folk outfit with the Miller Road Band.
Dye is a self-trained singer-songwriter and guitarist, who collaborated with his younger relatives after a long trip abroad.
“I’ve been doing music alone for years,” Dye said. “I lived in Europe and came back about three years ago or so and I found out my nephews and nieces were amazing classical musicians and had been training while I was gone.”
The Miller Road Band consists of Dye, two of his nephews, Andrew and Thomas Miller, and his niece, Carrie Miller.
Dye and the Millers played at farmer’s markets “just for fun” in their beginning, but in 2010 they started taking music seriously, Dye said. Toward the end of the same year Dye released his first album, “Daniel Dye featuring the Miller Road Band.”
The Millers largely provide a string section to Dye’s music and were surrounded by music starting at a young age, said Andrew Miller, a third-year in economics as well as multi-instrumentalist for the band. The Millers’ father holds a degree in music education, and their mother teaches piano lessons as well as music classes at an elementary school.
“All growing up we took piano lessons and eventually started doing strings. That’s sort of our main thing,” Andrew Miller said. Andrew Miller plays viola in Ohio State’s Community Orchestra, but with the Miller Road Band, he plays more instruments including guitar, banjo, mandolin, melodica and cajÃ³n. Carrie Miller is a violinist, and Thomas Miller is a cellist.
The band is in the process of mixing its newest album, which is slated to release sometime in the summer or fall of 2013.
Dye said his songwriting process with the Miller Road Band has developed since the release of the first album.
“Probably the biggest difference is that we’re better musicians,” Dye said. “The band is tighter, we know how to grow a song more. When I write a song, I’ll have three verses and a chorus and now we’re able to actually develop the song better.”
Andrew Miller said the songs on the first album were completed in a few takes, as opposed to the songs on the new album which sound “more produced, polished.” The increased production value should add to the sound, he said.
Dye writes the melody and the lyrics, and the Millers contribute additional melody lines to the songs.
“I come up with the original melody and lyrics, and a lot of the parts that they add they work out on their own,” Dye said. “Sometimes it’s together. Sometimes I’ll just play through a song, and literally just start jamming and see what sounds good and what doesn’t.”
The Millers embellish Dye’s melodies with their expertise as string players and provide thicker instrumentation.
“There’s a lot of arranging that goes on after (Daniel) writes a song. We come up with counter-melodies or instrumental melodies, as well as harmonies,” Andrew Miller said. “While the song is considered written, the song is still pretty shaped and is still growing by our process as we all work together on it.”
A groundbreaking song for Dye and the Miller Road Band was “Hard Cider,” a song that won the band a spot on CD102.5’s Local Band Showcase on March 22, although the band ultimately lost the contest.
The Millers’ part in the song supports the front-and-center act: a duet between Dye and a guest vocalist, Dye’s sister Sarah Kelly.
Kelly does not appear in many of the songs with Dye and the Millers, but enjoys her time performing with the group nonetheless, Kelly said.
Kelly said she finds playing music and singing with a family makes the performance much easier.
“What I think makes (Dye and the Miller Road Band) unique besides Daniel’s songwriting … is the family connection,” Kelly said. “With family, it’s so easy to sing together, it’s just really natural to harmonize, which is one thing I love about singing with them.”
Daniel Dye and the Miller Road Band is scheduled to perform a free show at Kafe Kerouac, 2250 N. High St., on April 12 at 9 p.m. Donations will be accepted.