Bozeman-based country artist returns to stage with pandemic inspiration
By Julia Barton EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
BOZEMAN – Although country musician Matt Miller moved from Oklahoma to Montana nearly 30 years ago in pursuit of the outdoor ventures the Northern Rockies have to offer, he ultimately found solace in the humble music scene in Bozeman. Following the silencing of live music during the pandemic, Miller is excited to share the creativity he found in isolation with local crowds.
Miller found his way to music while learning the guitar at 13, and a few years later began experimenting with songwriting. His first attempts, Miller admitted, were “terrible,” but as he grew, so did his talent. By 2013, he was singing and playing guitar at open mic nights and small venues in Bozeman, and he hasn’t stopped since.
When the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the lives of those across the world, many musicians were hit particularly hard as social gatherings, including concerts or live music showings, came to a grueling halt. Miller was lucky enough, he said, to not be entirely financially dependent on music to get him through. Although Miller missed the live shows, isolation provided him the creativity to write some of what he believes are his best songs.
“It’s rare to get that much time to yourself,” Miller said, emphasizing the role personal reflection has on his process. “No matter what you do … it’s hard to get that time to focus on what you like and turn that into a creative outlet.”
Miller expressed he often finds inspiration by watching what other people are going through. A fail-safe method, he explained, is walking into a bar alone and simply studying how people are acting, and then make it into a story to write about.
“Especially in country music, it’s all about storytelling.” These bite-sized stories fit well into Miller’s lyrics, covering motifs of love, loss and everything in between.
As live music picks back up, the musician is reflecting on the growth Bozeman has seen during his time performing in the area. Miller is happy to see old faces who have been supportive of live music for years and recognizes new crowds appearing to live shows more often, too.
“We’re really just scratching the surface as far as the music scene here,” Miller said.
Miller is looking forward to playing for live audiences all summer in the Bozeman area. You can hear Miller’s music live from a number of Montana venues this summer, including Stacey’s Bar & Steakhouse, the Old Saloon, Bozeman Taproom and Nordic Brew Works.