Milton is a New York-based singer/songwriter and the leader of a lively, rootsy six-piece group that plays dates up and down the East Coast and around the country. Already well known for his radio hit In the City on New York City’s WFUV, Milton released his second, self-titled CD to wide critical praise in November 2006. With the help of a busy live performance schedule and frequent airplay, Milton and the Milton Band have seen their audience increase rapidly in recent months.
Milton's regular New York-based band is an international outfit that has come together over years of club gigs and plays together like a family act. The band's senior member is bassist/string arranger Sami Buccella, who played his first gig with Milton in a Buenos Aires bar before the singer was even legal. Drummer Adam Chasan grew up in Spain, managed a recording studio and played drums on the road with a number of acts before answering an ad for the Milton Band. Piano player Frank Campbell started tickling the ivories just north of London, where he was born. His jazz chops impressed at Oxford, where he studied before working on the London club scene with Latin jazz ensembles. He eventually made it across the Atlantic, as did his Oxford classmate Martin Kearton, the band's lead guitarist and mandolin player. Lending harmony and percussion to the act is Southern belle Becca Parrish, who performed on her own and with several established club acts around town before she heard Milton practicing in an empty office and asked to sing with him.
Milton's musical journey began in the suburbs of New York City, where he was the youngest of many music-playing brothers. His family has a long history of making music. Grandma was a classical piano player and music teacher. Her brother was a folk singer who made 78s in the 40s, and sang songs from all over the world at family parties. There was also a bluegrass-banjo-picking cousin, a jazz-piano-playing uncle, and another cousin who met her husband in the French horn section of a pit orchestra. Not to mention Milton's older brothers, who were making records and playing punk rock in clubs by the time they were in high school.
As a teenager, Milton snuck off to the city whenever possible to meet as many strange characters and hear as many kinds of music as he could. Way gone on Bob Dylan, old R&B and the classics of Western literature, Milton began in earnest his own struggle to compose the well-made song. He taught himself to play guitar, and performed his fledgling compositions on any stage that would have him. After college in New York City and some time in South America, Milton headed to the heartland. He set up shop in Chicago, and played coffeehouses and clubs all over the Midwest. Eventually, feeling the pull of his roots, he returned to New York City. Here he writes, plays, sings and lives a life dedicated to making music.
Spotted singing at a folk showcase in Jacksonville, FL, Milton was approached by Moon Caravan Records, an indie label from Raleigh, NC. Soon after, he recorded his 2003 debut Scenes from the Interior at Jerry Kee's Duck Kee Studio with a host of great session players. Upon its release, Scenes from the Interior came to the attention of New York's acclaimed radio station WFUV, whose music director Rita Houston, along with many of the DJs at the station, became great Milton supporters. Other notable fans include famed New York concert promoter Ron Delsener and veteran Dylan/Cash/Leonard Cohen/Simon and Garfunkel producer Bob Johnston.
The brand-new, self-titled CD, released November 2006 on Flying Horse Records, was recorded in New York City, North Carolina and at the storied Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY. It’s currently getting spin on KCRW in Los Angeles and WFUV in New York, along with many stations in between. The band has appeared several times as guests on WFUV programs, including an on-air concert on Vin Scelsa's legendary Idiot's Delight. As an opener, Milton has shared bills with Yo La Tengo, Shelby Lynne, Jamie Cullum, Norah Jones and James Hunter, among others. As headliners, the band debuted at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater with a sold-out gig in November 2006. They've since sold out 3 more shows there in 2006-2007. In the City was recently featured on a CD compilation of rising talent in Relix magazine's December 2006 issue.
In 2007, Milton composed and recorded the score for Hard as Nails, an HBO documentary that ran throughout the year on HBO and at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Milton is poised for a major breakthrough with Grand Hotel, the album he and his band just recorded in Minneapolis with Grammy-nominated co-producer Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams, Iris Dement, Greg Brown) and engineer Tom Tucker (Prince, Lucinda Williams, Mavis Staples). To celebrate the album’s release, Milton is playing two shows at Joe’s Pub: June 17 (sold-out) and June 18, 7:00 P.M.
The 12-track Grand Hotel includes some of the songs that crowds have come to know and sing along to in sold-out shows at prestigious NYC venues like Joe’s Pub and The Living Room. Among these are the album’s title track, as well as the swinging, radio-ready rock tune “Everybody Loves You” and the lilting “Pretty Face,” both of which feature harmony vocals by Becca Parrish. Other highlights include the bluesy “A Whole Lotta Pain” and the timeless “Pale Moonlight.”
As he has with such landmark recordings as Lucinda Williams’ Essence, Ramsey brought to Milton’s Grand Hotel a simplicity and tasteful economy that make space for the songs of an exceptional writer who is heavy on craft without being heavy-handed. Milton’s collaboration with Ramsey and Tucker makes a lot of sense, as the three men share a penchant for literate pop songs unmistakably rooted in American rhythm and blues.
While he has been compared to many of his heroes—Van Morrison, Nick Lowe, The Band—Milton has distinguished himself with a unique voice and a compelling mix of grit and grammar. Milton has been aptly described as a writer’s writer; he’s extraordinarily capable of elegantly simple narratives about the complex wonders of life in the city and in the world.
Grand Hotel builds upon the momentum of airplay on key radio stations, such as WFUV in New York and KCRW in Los Angeles. Critics, too, are beginning to discover the music. In a recent lead review of Milton’s eponymous last album for the Sunday New York Daily News, Jim Farber called Milton “Paradise Found.”
Milton and the band will tour the U.S. in connection with Grand Hotel. Dates will be announced soon.