Miles away

Area band increases city audience

Miles High, photography by Ellie Bogue

Although its members come from the Dekalb County area and attended Dekalb and Hamilton high schools, Miles High has begun making its move to more regional shows which bring them to Fort Wayne with more frequency of late. Having competed for a couple years in the annual Battle of the Bands at Columbia Street West (and finishing second in 2013, just one vote shy of the championship), Miles High is building an audience with their infectious blend of rock, funk, jazz and almost any other musical form you might imagine.

Four of the five core members – Miles Boyd, Andy Murfield, Nolan Opper and Ryan Moreno – had already been playing together for some time (and had recorded a CD, 2010’s “Freaks ‘N’ Losers”) when guitarist John McKnight joined the fold through his friendship with Moreno. Since that time, the quintet has been a solid unit but also often have a horn section join them, putting as many as eight of them on the stage at one time. Those logistics made for some interesting footwork at those Battle of the Band performances.

“Part of the scoring is for stage presence, so they want to see some movement up there,” says McKnight, “but if I’d turn too hard to the left, I’d end up sending some guy down.”

Challenges aside, the horns add depth the band, and what makes that especially remarkable is that, aside from sax player Murfield, McKnight says the other players are often brought in cold.

“The horns have been a nice addition, and it’s our sax guy who brings them to us. Usually he’ll bring in someone who’s never even played with us before, and they come play and just tear it up. Andy is the most truly musical, academically wise. He’s studying music in Kalamazoo at Western Michigan. I don’t read or write music, but he certainly does, and he can bring in people and let them know what to play.”

With the band spread out in two states, and a couple of the players involved in another band, finding time to rehearse and perform can be difficult. But in spite of that, the band managed to record a second CD, “Pleasure Playground,” which was released last April. It was a project begun almost three years ago.

“We started working on it in 2011 and had a lot of ideas for songs, but we did what we shouldn’t have and tried to work on the songs as we were recording them. That takes a lot of time and money so we put it aside for awhile until we were more ready to record.”

Their more recent effort is a live CD recorded last November at the Dupont Bar & Grill where the band has found an early Fort Wayne foothold. Capturing some of their new songs live suits the band, which prides itself on the energy of their performances. McKnight thinks the added spontaneity brings something special to their music.

“When you’re recording, you put down a drum track, and then if I start putting a guitar track on top of it, that drum track is never going to change. When we’re on stage, I can give our drummer a nod, and something happens that’s completely different. If you screw up, that’s it, you can’t redo it. But it’s also more emotional and exciting.”

First appeared in the April 2014 issue of Fort Wayne Monthly.


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