Episode #20 featuring Miller & Sasser


Chris Miller (left) and James Sasser

Episode #20 Miller & Sasser

We invited the A-team into The Helm for our latest episode, and boy oh boy did they ever deliver.

First up was our pal Kip from Secret Aardvark Trading Company, who arrived for the start of the show with a hankerin’ thirst and a re-up of habanero sauce, the gift we share with our musical guests. As Eric says early in the show, Kip is family and it sure was a blast having him as an audience of one for this week’s show. Not only is he great company, but he shares a cool story about how he met the great country singer Emily Herring and came to play in her band, providing a terrific intro for her song “Your Mistake.”

Things just kept getting better with the arrival of Chris Miller and James Sasser, the dynamite local country duo who stopped by for an interview and live performance. Miller & Sasser came straight from their weekly happy hour gig at The Landmark Saloon here in Portland and shared some stories from their recent travels to California and Texas, as well as some history of how they met and how our own Mike Lee played an integral role in launching their partnership.

These fellas a first-rate gentlemen and performers, and one listen to their original song “Step By Step” will give you a good idea of just how good these guys are. When it comes to country singers in Portland, it just doesn’t get any better than James Sasser. And for guitar pickers, Chris Miller’s track record speaks for itself. He’s been playing for years as a sideman with some of the bigger names in alt-country (most notably with Dave Alvin) and is a member of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. We feel super blessed to have these fine gents in The Helm and are pleased as all get out to share this special interview and performance.

Episode #20 also features some fine music from more of our favorites, including Neko Case, John Moreland, local boys Riviera and the red-hot Lydia Loveless. We also have a fantastic Trio Bravo from super listener Will Ginsler, who’s been one of the podcast’s top advocates. Thanks, Will, for the great support and also for the kick-ass three-song collection you selected.

Lots to chew on this week, so let’s get started, shall we? Here’s the playlist for Episode #20.

Stars & Gutters, Two Cow Garage
Shit Shots Count, Drive-By Truckers
Tennessee, Johnny Cash
All My Friends Are Crazy, 500 Miles To Memphis
Things That Scare Me, Neko Case
Break My Heart Sweetly, John Moreland
Hurricane, Possessed By Paul James
Trio Bravo by Will Ginsler
Satan And St. Paul, John Fulbright
For The Turnstiles, Neil Young
Cocaine and Ashes, Son Volt
Your Mistake, Emily Herring
Honky Tonkers Don’t Cry, Dale Watson
Interview with Miller & Sasser
Step By Step (Live In The Helm), Miller & Sasser
Tell It To The Jukebox (Live In The Helm), Miller & Sasser
When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) (Live In The Helm), Miller & Sasser
Cavalier, Shovels & Rope
Little Ways, Dwight Yoakam
Hopeless, Riviera
I Hope He Breaks Your Heart, American Aquarium
Let’s Just Be Friends For Tonight, Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers
The Very Best, The Harmed Brothers
The Very Best, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit
Cigarettes & Truckstops, Lindi Ortega
Kit Kat Clock, Bottle Rockets
Head, Lydia Loveless
Bar Lights, Root Jack

Review of Copper & Coal


Copper & Coal (2013, self released)

The women of Copper & Coal present a striking vision on stage. With their beautifully detailed evening gowns and towering presence, they demand your attention even before the first note of music is played.

Their voices, though, prove even more arresting.

Check out “Kentucky Blue” (www.reverbnation.com/copperandcoal/song/18224686-kentucky-blue) from their new self-titled debut. A short line of steel guitar opens the ears to the signature sound of Leslie Beia and Carra Stasney harmonizing in a pitch-perfect union that recalls the best of old Nashville.

No auto-tune needed here, folks. These ladies can really belt it out, which they demonstrate throughout this 10-song collection produced by local country legend Caleb Klauder.

Having common roots growing up in their native state of Michigan, and a shared love of country music, the vocal duo came together at Beia’s regular Monday night gig at the Landmark Saloon in Portland. Almost instantly, they found they were on to something special and drew the attention of some of the finest local players — all standing at the ready to back them up.

Branching out, Beia and Stasney were determined to produce a recording to share with a growing audience. Klauder answered the call and along with engineer Jordan Leff helped create this collection of classic-style tunes that would have sounded great on country radio in the 1950s and every era since.

Copper & Coal also gave Stasney and Beia a chance to flex their formidable songwriting chops. The disc features just one cover song, Dolly Parton’s “Dagger Through The Heart,” which fits nicely among the nine others (included seven written by Stasney specifically for the project).

And they hit all the right classic-country notes with songs of longing, drinking, honky -tonking, heartbreak and cheating. Buoyed by terrific performances on fiddle (Luke Price), steel (Gary Newcomb, Russ Blake) and mandolin (Klauder), the music takes the listener back to a time when content mattered and talent trumped all.

An impressive debut, Copper & Coal is sure to draw in new fans to a classic stye of country music, and also bodes well for an act just starting to take off.

— Phil Favorite
That Much Further West Podcast