University of Texas San Antonio [Genre:Pop]
Welcome to Middle Ground. We hope you like the tunes as much as we do.
Kelly Miller: lead vocals- acoustic guitar - harmonica
Emanuel Meza: acoustic guitar - mandolin - vocals
Sophie Severence: violin - vocals
Ross Renker: cello - acoustic bass
Juan Andres Meza: drums - vocals
Over the past few months, Middle Ground has made quite a splash in South-Central Texas. The group was recently named the second best Americana band in San Antonio for 2007 by the local press.
The group also won an annual "Battle of the Bands" at the famous Shady Tree Saloon in Spring Branch, Texas this past June. In fact, it was the first time in the competition's history that a band recieved a perfect score.
Middle Ground was also recently handed a weekly house show at the Dirty Dog Bar located on 6th Street in downtown Austin. Austin, generally considered the "live music capital of the world", is a difficult (if not near impossible) city to break into for any band; Middle Ground was asked to return on a regular basis after their first show; which is a rarity.
The group also recently returned from a very successful tour to the northeast. Playing at historic venues such as The Parting Glass Pub (Saratoga, New York) and headlining the 26th annual Mayor's Cup Festival in Plattsburgh, New York; Middle Ground is quickly gaining momentum.
They have also split bills with a few familiar bands. They have been fortunate to be on the same bill as groups like Spoon, Spoonfed Tribe, O'2L (featuring members of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Guy Forsyth, Ian Moore, The Hussy Hicks and Tom Freund from Ben Harper's band.
The band itself has quite an eclectic line-up. Ross Renker on cello and acoustic bass, and Juan Meza on percussion lead the rhythm section. Emanuel Meza on mandolin and guitar, and Sophie Severance on violin take charge of the hauntingly beautiful (and sometimes quite powerful) melodies. Miller heads up the group with vocals, guitar and harmonica. Their original songs take from both classic Americana and Rock to even hints of Blues and Bluegrass. The lyrics range from classic Folk, like in the song "Wasted", to straight up Springsteen-style lament in tunes like "Where We Were Born" and "Hell Bent".
The story of Middle Ground begins with its lead singer and songwriter Kelly Miller. Miller started out as a solo singer/songwriter and quickly made a name for himself in the San Antonio area. He recorded a solo album in late 2005 and had incredible sales and reviews for a self-produced premier album. Over the past two years, he has been hosting one of the most successful open mic nights at one of the premier music venues (Limelight Music) in San Antonio.
Emanuel Meza has been playing with Miller for almost 3 years. The two compliment eachother perfectly. Meza quickly has become an experienced Mandolin player and on guitar, he has a true natural talent. Meza hits the pocket nearly everytime he steps on stage. His knowledge of music and innate ability to feel out a song is a gift.
Ross Renker has been playing cello and bass off and on for nearly a decade. When first joining the group, he had not picked up the cello for nearly two years. Renker quickly caught on to the unique music of Middle Ground and made it what it is today. A classically trained cellist? Not at all. But the originality that he brings to the intrument is a comodity that Middle Ground has come to appreciate and love. Renker is by far the most out-going on and off the stage. Self-titled "The Show"; he could possibly be the first and only cellist to stand up and play it behind his back.
Sophie Severance on the other hand is a classically trained violinist in every sense of the word. She hails from the University of Texas at San Antonio's prestigious music school where she has sat concert master for both of the school's orchestras. Severance quickly caught on to the music of Middle Ground and added her own unique touches. Her violin work takes a somewhat classical form but somehow manages to fit in perfectly with the ensemble of Middle Ground. Her knowledge of music theory and history have also aided the group in the writing of some great original pieces.
Middle Ground's music though complex and unique, needed a laid-back drummer who knew when not to play. Juan Meza stepped in and the rest was history. It's nearly impossible to find a good drummer who is willing to strip everything away and have a simple kit; Meza is that man. His uncanny ability to feel out a song is a gift. He has quickly become the glue that the band was looking for (both on and off the stage) all along.
As a group and individually, Middle Ground takes their music seriously. They have an amazing work ethic; and plan on making this music thier career. Middle Ground is widely known in San Antonio circles as one of the hardest working groups in the area. Without any management or help, this group of 5 has managed to: Record an album; book shows with national touring bands (and continue to do so); create an extensive merchandise line; plan and execute a successful cross-country tour; continue to book at larger capacity venues; and still manage to find time to practice and write.
Although Middle Ground has an eclectic intrumentational line-up and unique sound, critics and fans both agree that their music can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.
Anyone listening can relate to the lyrics. Miller is a master at mixing Springsteen-style blue collar pain with Dylan-style poetry.
The sound itself is incredibly catchy without being too poppy. The 30 and up crowd is reminded of classic artists (Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, etc. . .) of the late 60's and early 70's. Those in their younger 20's love Middle Ground's music because of it's "festival band appeal". Even teens like the music because of its hints of pop, and catchy hooks.
Promoters in San Antonio love Middle Ground for these reasons. The group has been given the opportunity to open for bands from all sorts of genres (punk to reggie to country) and done so successfully.
Although Middle Ground has only been around for a short while, they are quickly paying their dues and earning the right to make it in the music business.
This group is serious about their music. Middle Ground has the focus and drive to be successful.
Easy Trouble LP- 2005 (Kelly Miller solo album)
Chateauguay EP - August 2007
Coinciding with the release of Chateauguay, Middle Ground will be interviewed on San Antonio's local College station KSYM.
Middle Ground also has a myspace site in which anyone can purchase songs - both live and recorded.
Bob Dylan, Primus, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Lamontagne, Martin Sexton, anything classical, Amos Lee, The Tragically Hip, The Gourds, Tool, Townes Van Zant, Joni Mitchel, Rachael Yamagata, Dave Matthews, Ryan Adams, Son Volt and so many others.
Middle Ground can be catagorized as:
Acoustic folk rock
And when we jam out, we like to jam bluegrass style.
Similar artists could include:
Bruce Springsteen (on Nebraska or Devils and Dust)
Bob Dylan (on Blood on the Tracks)
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