Need a beat? Call Dom Miller.
Already an established purveyor of technical rhythms and in-the-pocket, tightly metered good times among the local band circuit, he also has a reputation as one of the scene’s most gifted young talents.
From rhythm and blues to jazz, Jamaica ska to reggae, funk, hip-hop, rock and everything in between, chances are you may have been caught up in one of Miller’s simmering grooves on any given night around town.
If you haven’t, mark my words you will soon. But first, an introduction to the 25-year-old drummer.
“I was that kid always making beats and grooves on walls, desks, pots and pans and car dashes,” Miller said. “Anything that can make noise I hit it and made music on it. I used to carry my sticks with me everywhere, so I remember banging on shopping carts at the grocery store. I don't know how my mother could stand me playing drums for hours at times. But I am thankful she didn't always make me stop drumming.”
We are too. Thanks, Mom.
“I was in the marching band, concert/symphonic band and jazz band all four years at West High. I was also the fill-in drummer for the choir concerts. That was a fun experience in high school.”
Currently enrolled at Bakersfield College, Miller’s entrance into the local ranks was banging away for now-defunct, local ska band Kaptain Krunch and the Cereal Killers (one of the best band names ever), but always keeping one foot in training as a member of Drum Corps International (DCI) groups the Bluecoats (Canton, Ohio) and Pacific Crest (Diamond Bar). Both groups offered an intense playing regiment meant to develop an almost military-like discipline in a young musician. For Miller, that also helped expand his already curious musical palate.
“I appreciate all genres of music for various things, but I enjoy anything with a great backbeat. So, most music I listen to is ska/reggae, funk and rhythm and blues. I love to listen to salsa and Latin music; I like the rhythms and appreciate the percussion. I also like to listen to trap music and hip-hop from time to time.”
Among other groups in Miller’s ever-growing resume are Pocket, The Lift and Bako ska reggae titans The Easy In (his current gig ), but he also makes himself available whenever duty calls, most recently sitting in with the dueling pianos performers at the Padre Hotel. But wait, there’s more.
“Believe it or not, I was in a country band called "Cowboy Calvin and the You Ain’t Ready Band.”
We believe you.
In addition to bandstands, you can also find Miller layering accompanying beats with live drums onstage with local DJ Chuck1 around town.
“Chuck1 and I started doing this project officially around 2016. It started with me asking to play on one of his sets at The Mothership DJ night and he was playing hit after hit. We exchanged numbers and started to communicate about different ideas and played a couple benefit shows. Then I got asked to play on his Friday night gig downtown and it was a good time, so we decided to make it a thing.”
And why not? Much like his influences drummers — including Dennis Chambers, Questlove (The Roots), Dave Weckl, Steve Gadd and Bernard Purdie — Miller also understands the importance of variety at the drum throne.
“Playing live is one of the best feelings you cannot replicate with anything else," he said. "For me, one of the best feelings I can ever get is looking into the crowd and seeing another individual feel the groove and pulse of the music. Whether it is them dancing, toe tapping or bobbing their head, seeing another person feel my drums kicking is a beautiful feeling. I enjoy having a good time so whenever I can make another person happy it makes me happy. Being 'in the pocket' is where I long to be, so I try to stay there and make it funky for people to feel.”
If you’re not into the club scene, you can also catch Miller at another his favorite venues should the spirit move you to roll out of bed after a long night.
“I play the 'holy drums' at (Cain Memorial African Methodist Episcopal) church every Sunday.”
Great 48-Hour Bluegrass Jam
Heads up all local pickers and grinners, the Great 48-Hour Bluegrass Jam returns Jan. 11 to 14 to the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center. A nonstop gathering of all things Americana, with a focus on the venerated musical traditions born in the mountainous regions of Appalachia, it’s everything you’d think it is. I’ve attended a number of times and being in a room filled with skilled musicians taking on this genre is a sight and sound to behold — even if you're not a full-time bluegrass fan. If you do play, show up with your axe (guitar, fiddle, or other stringed instrument of choice), take a seat inside one of the assigned banquet rooms, say hello, and get pickin’. It’s that easy. There are also a number of special concerts to enjoy as well. The kicker? It’s all free to attend. For more information and updates, visit the California Bluegrass Association website at cbaweb.org.
Alley art show
Fans of both outsider art and street photography should make plans to catch the “How Dare You!” art show coming Friday to Lucky Club Tattoo in downtown Bakersfield.
According to a news release, the art show will feature photo prints, limited-edition T-shirts, plus copies of local alt print zines, including the magnificent DIY Alt Lab and “How Dare You!” zines available for purchase. Among the artists displaying their wares will be Zach Hudson, Tobin Yelland and Mike Deye. The evening will also include large-format printing by Acme Sign Company and DJ Josex providing the evening’s soundtrack.
Friday’s show begins at 8 p.m. Admission is free, all ages admitted. Lucky Club Tattoo is located at 1520 Wall St. next door to Guthrie’s Alley Cat.
Ill Tiempo CD Release Party, 8 p.m. Saturday, B Ryder’s, 7401 White Lane. $5. 397-7304.
The hyped up, always down to get loco Bakersfield brethren of Ill Tiempo are an unstoppable force around these parts. I don’t think I’ve ever caught the band getting lazy onstage, and there are always pools of spilled beer nearby for you to slip, slide, mosh or bounce in. If that sounds like an environment suited to your weekend party needs, you should make plans to attend this pachanga celebrating the release of the group’s new CD, “Pistolas.” If there’s anybody who deserves copious rounds of congratulatory tequila shots delivered to the stage it’s these guys. Orale. Also performing is For The Record.
Felipe Esparza, 8 p.m. Saturday, at Fox Theater, 2001 H St. $34.50-$50 plus service charge. 324-1369.
After being introduced in jokes onstage by his homie, comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, fellow funnyman Felipe Esparza has solidified a reputation as the "I know a dude just like that" friend among his fanbase. Sharing uncomfortably hilarious stories from his rocky upbringing at home to the present, Esparza’s self-effacing style is delivered so naturally, you might think you’re his therapist. Highly recommended.
KRAB Christmas Show, 5 p.m. Dec. 14, Fox Theater, 2001 H St. $5-$15.
No longer branded an "Acoustic Christmas," this collection of young talents is but a small sampling of acts currently on cross-country treks rolling through strange cities for brief stops, sprinkling new sounds into the ears of energetic fans. This year’s lineup includes Joywave, Dreamers, Welshly Arms, Barns Courtney, Brother Sundance and The Academic. Go give each group a preview on YouTube or Spotify, then bring your spare cash for merch and show your support so you can say, "I remember when" come next Grammy season.