On Halloween, Juneau singer-songwriter Andy Miller released an album of 15 songs about Juneau and Southeast Alaska for free on Bandcamp. The songs, usually averaging a minute and half in play time, range in subject matter from Breeze In, life in Douglas, and Rep. Justin Parish’s beard.
“I think the Justin Parish one I like a lot,” Miller said. “It’s kind of a nice song but it’s also sort of funny. At Folk Fest actually Justin Parish got up front in the front row and (stroked his beard), so I think he was more pleased with it than I was. I didn’t really know him before that but I wrote the song and knew people who were mutual friends and said, ‘Hey do you know Justin’s text number?’ I think it surprised him to get this song from someone he didn’t know like, ‘I wrote this song about your beard,’ but he was quite pleased.”
This is Miller’s second album, the first of which he released in college; he described it as being more of the standard acoustic, singer-songwriter fare. Back then half the guys had a guitar and Dave Matthews Band could be heard in the halls, he said. He didn’t set out to write funny songs, but the few he played were well received, he said.
“When you go to open mic and no one is paying attention and then you play a funny song, everyone is looking at you,” he said.
Miller used to have a band in Sitka when he lived there, but didn’t become serious about writing until this past winter, when the cold and dark provided him with a significant amount of time to get creative, he said.
“If it weren’t for (“Justin Parish’s Beard”) I probably wouldn’t have written any others, so when you have something that is good, you can feel a lot more confident writing things that aren’t so good,” Miller said about the album layout, stating his favorites are towards the front.
Miller wrote and performed several of the songs on the album for the 2016 and 2017 Folk Fest, like “Ketchikan,” “If You Lived in Douglas,” “Woman in the Valley,” “Juneau Hasn’t Changed, It’s You That’s Changed,” and of course, “Justin Parish’s Beard.” “If You Live in Douglas” is the most “genuine, sincere song” from the album, Miller said, since his girlfriend does not live in town, but the song imagines what she’d experience if she did; the other songs are a bit more playful and general about life in Southeast.
Miller hadn’t initially planned to release his funny songs but he wanted to experiment with recording for a future album, and because people at past Folk Fests had asked him if they could find his music online. Now they can either stream or download the songs for free at: https://andymiller.bandcamp.com/releases.
• Clara Miller is the Capital City Weekly’s staff writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.