Throwback Thursday: L.D. Miller

America first met harmonica prodigy L.D. Miller back in 2006 when he and his brother Cole finished second in the inaugural season of “America’s Got Talent,” but Tank and I first met him a few years earlier when the brothers and the rest of their family band came through our local university to play a blues show. That was 2003, and L.D. was only 9—young enough that his mother asked us to “keep an eye” on the little man while the rest of the Miller clan performed a sound check.

ldmiller2I’m not used to seeing children I’ve babysat rock a stage quite so completely, but this extroverted third grader (who taught himself to play when he was only six) got up there and hit the harp like a pro. Seven years ago, L.D. Miller was the best harmonica player I’d ever seen. Imagine how I feel about him now that he’s in high school.

Watching the Miller brothers do so well on “Talent,” then, was obviously very enjoyable (even though it sucked to see them lose to some run-of-the-mill child singer), and we knew that L.D. was the kind of kid who’d at least grow into a role as a quiet sensation on the seldom-publicized blues circuit. Now 16, few harmonica players are more respected, and Miller has gotten props from everyone from John Popper of Blues Traveler to Buddy Guy to Stevie Wonder. I could list the rest of the big-name artists he’s played with and impressed the hell out of, but I won’t waste your time.

Just kidding. Of course I’ll waste your time. Here we go: Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Kanye West, Keb Mo, India.Arie, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, BB King, Joan Jett, Ziggy Marley, and loads of others. Impressed yet? Us too.

So where is he now? Running around and dropping harmonica jams in loads of live shows, either on his own or with members of his family (once called the Clayton Miller Blues Band), and for now that’s good enough. However, for how good this kid is you’d love to see him doing more mainstream stuff, but what’s the market for a superstar harmonica player? In any event, I loved this kid when he was 9 and I’m enjoying watch him bloom into the real deal. You don’t know his name yet, but you will. Remember, he’s still only 16 years old…

Harmonica beatboxing at the 2009 SPAH Convention with fellow harp player Brendan Powers:

About the Author

Joel Brigham writes about stuff. It’s pretty much all he cares about. Stuff like music and more music. But he mostly cares about music. And also music.

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