No one can define soul. This minor inconvenience of a fact has never deterred people from trying to do so, though. Some say it has something to do with the color of your skin. Others insist it is something that can be learned. Still others will have you believe that we are born with it, or we’re not, and if we’re not, well, we’re out of luck. Most of these explanations are inherently flawed.
It’s a silly endeavor, really, but it does often yield some entertaining results, and spurring discourse is always a good idea, right? In the end, all that we can say about soul, as it pertains to music, is that it cannot be defined with any accuracy in mere words, but when we hear it, we know exactly what it is, and at that point, statements of definition just seem vain at last. Words can be soulful, certainly, but they aren’t soul itself.
The first time I heard local guitarist and vocalist David Michael Miller, my response was not an intellectual one, and I didn’t put it into words and then mumble it to myself under my breath. I simply felt something. Miller’s playing and singing were dripping with soul, and before I could truly think about what was happening, I’d already had a physical reaction to it.
Perhaps Miller’s background in church music, gospel in its various guises, had something to do with the deep emotional resonance his performance with Dive House Union instilled in me on that particular day. Who knows? DHU wasn’t exactly gospel, and it wasn’t exactly straight blues, and though it jammed, it wasn’t your garden variety jam-band stuff either. But it was dripping with that elusive indefinable quality: soul.
When I heard a few months back that, as the members of DHU take some time apart to work on various solo projects, Miller was teaming with members of revered Sacred Steel and jam-band musicians the Campbell Brothers, the pairing made sense. The material they are working on comes from tunes Miller compiled and recorded for his upcoming solo album. The common denominator is gospel, certainly, but the Campbells have proven themselves more than able to bring their unique take on roots music to widely varied musical settings, from churches in Rochester to concert stages presided over by the likes of the Allman Brothers Band.
Miller and the Campbell Brothers are planning to hit the road together to support Miller’s solo album upon its release. In the meantime, they will preside over a residency at the Central Park Grill (2519 Main St.) that will find them preparing for the road with a series of intimate shows, the first of which takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Doyles return home
The Doyle Brothers – siblings Ryan and Todd Doyle, formerly of Buffalo alt-pop band More Than Me – have been living and working in New York City for the past few years. Their efforts yielded a recent EP known as “Two Bros, One Box.”
The duo has solidified a harmony-heavy form of pop that suggests that the list of influences on the Doyle Brothers Facebook page – the Everly Brothers, Fun. and Bruno Mars – is an accurate one. The guys have been working on new music for the past several months, and between sessions, they’ve been touring like madmen. The Doyle Brothers return home for a show at 9 p.m. Sunday in Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.).
Live – at home
If you find yourself going out of the house to see live music a lot less often these days because of the frigid weather, you might want to check out ConcertWindow.com, a website that allows you to “go to the gig” without leaving your couch. The site offers everything from larger venue performances to home recordings, all streamed live in real time.
Local singer/songwriter/guitarist Davey O. will be offering his own show at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The show will not be recorded; ConcertWindow will stream the performance as it happens.