Steve Miller with Marty Stuart - Live @ Jazz at Lincoln Center

Steve Miller, a Jazz at Lincoln Center board member since 2014, joined forces with Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives band for a pair of Music From Appalachia shows on Dec. 7-8 at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater in New York. The second show was streamed live and Miller shared his thoughts about blues music after previous explorations into Miles Davis, T-Bone Walker and the "blues triangle" of the Mississippi Delta, Chicago and Texas.

"All the basic blues really came over from Africa with the slaves and was developed primarily in the Mississippi Delta," Miller tells Billboard. "The Appalachian blues is kind of interesting because it's mountain music, and it was more integrated than the Delta blues was at the beginning because of coal mining and timber. There were a lot of jobs in the mountains and you had all these country people from Scotland and Ireland and the English isle, and you had all these people from the west coast of Africa getting together and working together. Everybody's playing guitar or banjo or a fiddle and you end up with all this sort of Scottish and Irish and English folk music blending with Delta blues, so we're going to explore that music."

Next summer the Steve Miller Band will be touring with Stuart and the Superlatives, with plenty of onstage collaborations expected. "I’m thrilled because I'll be taking mandolin lessons every day," Miller says with a laugh. "Marty and his guys are going to come out and travel with us all over and country and I'm going to expose him to my audience. They've already come up to me and said, 'Oh, man, come on, we wanna do "Jet Airliner"! Let's do "Going to the Country."' It's just going to be a great time."

With Millers 50th recording anniversary marked this year, he says his crew has turned up "three or four CDs worth of stuff" -- including unreleased studio and live material -- that he hopes to start putting out next year. "Some of it's really, really, really good," Miller notes. "It's not perfect by any means, but it's great. I've realized I'm just this absurd perfectionist and some of it is embarrassing and horrible, to me, and to other people it's really interesting. So it's not just what I think, it's what other people think and what’s interesting to other people, and we're going to put it out next year."

After next years tour, Miller is planning on taking a break till mid-2021.    

"I'm at this point where I've been touring basically non-stop for 16 years, and I want to sort of stop and consider what's left to do in the time I have left, which is...who knows?" Miller says. "I just want to take about 18 months off and think about everything and write some new stuff and think about how I want to go out and how I want this last run to be. I've done this two or three times, where I've taken sabbaticals. I can't go away for three or four years like I've done before, but I'm going to take time off and re-think what I'm doing. I'm gonna read and write and I'm gonna re-organize everything and start afresh in 2021 -- June, I think. That's the way I'm looking at it right now."

Duane C Gillette