Scott Miller, David Childers and RB Morris Play Songwriters in the Round
The long-running series of in-the-round performances began in Balsam in 1996
6pm – 7pm food, beverages and meet-the-songwriters, music at 7:15
Begun at an inn in Balsam, NC, in 1996 and modeled after similar performances at Nashville’s famous Bluebird Café, the Great Balsam Nashville Songwriters in the Round Series, now hosted at the Historic Hazelwood School/Folkmoot Center, presents signature in-the-round shows featuring Nashville area songwriters who pen the lyrics performed by country’s biggest stars. Many performances feature Grammy and CMA award winners, and all include writers of many top-ranked songs.
What is an In-The Round Performance? Occasionally duplicated but most often associated with the Bluebird Café in Nashville, in-the-round performances feature performers seated in a circle with the audience all around. The musicians trade anecdotes about the music industry and sing the songs they’ve written.
Miller grew up on a farm in Swoope, Virginia. After graduating from William & Mary, he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1990. In 1994, he helped form a band called the Viceroys, which was renamed The V-Roys to avoid confusion with an existing group. The V-Roys were the first act signed on Steve Earle’s label, E-Squared Records.
After the V-Roys split up in 1999, Miller formed a new band, Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, who were briefly the house band on Blue Collar TV. The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote of Miller’s first albums after the V-Roys as “strong, folk-infused songs” in which “the boozy charm of his music was innocuous.”
Miller’s songs reflect his degrees in American History and Russian Studies, with references to his home, family, history, geography, writers and Appalachia. As of 2011, Miller was based in Staunton, Virginia, having moved back home to help manage the family cattle farm. Miller collaborated with filmmaker James Weems and photographer Glen Rose on mini-documentary “Going Home” which explores Miller’s personal and musical journey in returning to the family farm.
In addition to solo shows, Miller plays some shows with a full Commonwealth band lineup, but more often plays trio shows with what he has come to call the Commonwealth Ladies Auxiliary (bass player Bryn Davies and fiddler Rayna Gellert).
Singer-songwriter David Childers is the proverbial study in contradictions. A resident of Mount Holly, North Carolina, he’s a former high-school football player with the aw-shucks demeanor of a good ol’ Southern boy. But he’s also a well-read poet and painter who cites Chaucer and Kerouac as influences, fell in love with folk as a teen, and listens to jazz and opera.
Childers’ latest album, Run Skeleton Run, released May 5, 2017 on Ramseur Records, is filled with the kinds of songs that have made him a favorite of fans and fellow artists including neighbors the Avett Brothers. Scott Avett contributes to four tracks, and Avetts bassist Bob Crawford co-executive-produced the effort with label head Dolph Ramseur. (Crawford and Childers, both history buffs, have recorded and performed together in the Overmountain Men).
In fact, it was Crawford who kickstarted this album, Childers’ sixth solo effort, by suggesting he reunite with Don Dixon (R.E.M., the Smithereens), who’d produced Crawford’s favorite Childers album, Room 23 (done with his band the Modern Don Juans). Crawford also suggested tracking at Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium Recordings.
Crawford has also called Childers “a great friend, a great thinker and a great man … a true North Carolina treasure.” But let’s take out “North Carolina,” because Childers is the kind of treasure who can spread joy wherever people love listening to great songs. In other words, just about anywhere. Or everywhere.
RB Morris is a poet and songwriter, solo performer and band leader, and a sometimes playwright and actor from Knoxville, Tennessee. He has published books of poetry including Early Fires (Iris Press), Keeping The Bees Employed, and The Mockingbird Poems (Rich Mountain Bound), and music albums including Spies Lies and Burning Eyes, and his most recent solo project Rich Mountain Bound. He wrote and acted in The Man Who Lives Here Is Looney, a one-man play taken from the life and work of James Agee, and was instrumental in founding a park dedicated to Agee in Knoxville. Morris served as the Jack E. Reese Writer-in-Residence at The University of Tennessee from 2004-2008, and was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame in 2009. He currently lives in Knoxville with his wife and daughter.