Miller & Sasser are singer/songwriters who have been performing their brand of roots/country/Americana for audiences all over the country. James Sasser, an Oregon native, born and raised in the eastern part of the state has produced three solo recordings with songs featured in films and TV before meeting Chris Miller. Miller has been working as a sideman, touring and recording for such acts as Wayne Hancock , Dale Watson, Asleep at the Wheel, Bill Kirchen, Marshall Crenshaw, Marcia Ball, Dave Alvin and Kelly Willis. The two formed Miller & Sasser in 2008 and are currently finishing their debut album. Featuring tight vocal harmonies, original songs mixed with classics and some twangy telecaster guitar playing, Miller & Sasser bring a fresh sound to country/americana.
That Much Further West
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
Enjoy Magazine Honky Tonkin’:
By Jim Dyer
James Sasser and Chris Miller have a lot of respect for each other and the gifts they each bring to their Portland, OR-based classic country duo. As an ace guitarist and slide player for artists like Dave Alvin, Asleep at the Wheel and Marcia Ball, Miller’s credentials are well established. But the Oregon Music Hall of Fame inductee has plenty of admiration for the young singer-songwriter he’s teamed up with. “We write songs together and James is a terrific songwriter,” says Miller. “We love playing together, whether it’s a duo, trio or the whole band.” Miller and Sasser have been making music in tandem since meeting at a Portland gig on Halloween four years ago. Everyone was supposed to dress up and Sasser came as a dead Buddy Holly. And Miller? “Chris Miller was dressed as Chris Miller,” says Sasser, amused at the memory. “We kind of knew of each other, but we figured out right away it was a good match. It was probably good odds we’d end up playing music together.” The two are influenced by classic country, especially the era of the 1960s and ‘70s with artists like Ray Price, Charlie Pride and Conway Twitty. Those artists and their bands were inspiring, partly because of the flexibility of their sound. From shuffles to ballads, country and rock and roll, they tended to do it all. “That’s kind of what we want to stay true to with what we’re doing together,” says Sasser. “We sing a lot of harmonies and it’s not all one hardcore sound and one sound only.”
NorCal Nite Owl:
Is Portland the new Bakersfield? You might think so when Miller & Sasser perform at Vintage Wine Bar, Thursday, August 22.
The PDX duo, Chris Miller and James Sasser, play Country, not Americana or roots or some other hipster derivation. Not surprising as Miller’s “regular” gig is playing guitar and lap steel with Austin fixture Dave Alvin.
Manly footwear is in order.
Live Seattle: Music In The Clubs:
The hits kept coming; one of my all time favorite bands was mounting up. Miller and Sasser are one of the finest country bands in the area. Fronted by two mighty artists, the band is an all star collection of stellar musicians. Chris Miller and James Sassser are a duo that came together a few years ago and bring a fresh, original sound to country music. Tonight they had a few surprises. Besides playing their usual killer repertoire, they did some soul. I was in heaven. I love these guys no matter what they play. James plays acoustic guitar and sings like an angel. He has a wonderful soft mellow voice that belies his young age. He is a real cowboy with rural Oregon cowboy roots. His passion and skill are evident in his performance. Chris Miller is a seasoned pro having played lead guitar for many of my favorite musicians. He has played with Wayne Hancock, Dale Watson, Chris Gaffney and Dave Alvin. Super talented, he plays both steel and 6 string guitar all while adding stellar vocals.
Oregon Music Hall of Fame Inductees 2012:
CHRIS MILLER: Guitarist Chris Miller played in one of Portland’s most popular bands in the late ’80s and early ’90s, The Rockin’ Razorbacks. The Razorbacks’ fan base grew and the band played regularly all over the NW. He then played in a blues band called the Terraplanes before moving to Texas. Playing with artists such as Junior Brown and Marcia Ball (which included a performance at the White House), Chris became popular with both fans and other musicians. The legendary Dave Alvin asked Chris to join his band and Chris became Dave’s right hand man, playing both steel and electric guitar.
Tucson Weekly – Big Talent: A few words on amazing visiting musicians playing at Fall Club Crawl®
Chris Miller and James Sasser (Bud Light Music Stage, 10 p.m.) hail from Portland, Ore. That’s not a city that one would consider a hotbed of country music, but once you hear the rich baritone voice and the plaintive notes of the Telecaster, you’d swear they came from a place like Bakersfield. Perhaps the sound comes from the fact that Chris Miller spent so many years in Austin as a sideman for the likes of Wayne Hancock, Dale Watson, Chris Gaffney, Ted Roddy and Marcia Ball. Or maybe it’s because James Sasser originated from cowboy stock out in rural Oregon. In any case, the end result is pure honky-tonk music, the way Waylon, George and Hank would’ve liked it. Since Chris Miller also plays guitar and lap steel for Dave Alvin, he has enticed the rest of the Guilty Men to come out and tour with him. Tammie’s Tucson Music
Arizona Daily Star Review
Honky-tonk duo to play free concert on Sunday
Austin-by-way-of-Portland, Ore., guitarist Chris Miller found some time on his hands last year, so he did what you would expect from a veteran musician.
He went out and made more music. The Texan’s project with Portland honky-tonk singer James Sasser is less rocking than his regular guitar gig with roots rocker Dave Alvin’s Guilty Men. (Alvin put his Guilty Men on vacation and went out with the Guilty Women this year.)
Sasser’s honky-tonk recalls old twang, simple lyrics and uncomplicated melodies. It’s the kind of music you’d hear in the West Texas dance halls where the guys once upon a time put on crisp shirts and ties and wore their best Stetsons, and girls were likely to wear patterned cotton sundresses and sandals.
He sings about getting over an ex to the backdrop of a three-chord melody. Toe-tapping Western melodies sneak in, the kind you can play with an acoustic guitar, a stand-up bass and a snare drum. It’s comfort food for your ears. Miller, whose Tucson tie was co-writing the title track of Troy Olsen’s debut indie album, “Living in Your World,” hooked up with Sasser last year when he returned to his native Portland. A prolific songwriter himself, he was struck by Sasser’s honky-tonk writing style that hinted at the pop stylings of Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly. Cathalena E. Burch, Dan Sorenson
Tucson Weekly “Short Takes” Review
During his 20 years living in Austin, Chris Miller played guitar for a virtual who’s-who of roots performers. During a break from playing guitar and lap steel for Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men, Miller returned to his native Portland, Ore., where he teamed up with songwriter and golden-throated singer James Sasser. The collaboration runs the gamut from full-fledged honky-tonk to songs that could have come from the ’70s AM gold era, and it’s all pretty damn great.