Monday, March 17, 2003
Is Miller a true Irish name?
Yes. It may have been translated at Ellis Island. It may have been O'Malley or something like that. My great-grandfather Miller came from Toormakeady in County Mayo. It's a beautiful town. It really feels like home. I've been there three times.
Is that where the name for the band came from?
Yes, but I could have as easily chosen Limerick because that's where my grandmother came from.
Did you start the band?
Along with Bill Davis, Marcy Meiers and Jack Shortlidge. Bill and Marcy are still in the group.
How often does County Mayo perform?
As often as possible. March and July are probably two of the busiest times. Irish music is becoming more popular and people like our blend of traditional music and humor.
Do you play an instrument in the band?
I don't really play anything. I sing. We do Scottish music, too, and Australian, some Canadian and some American. We have a huge repertoire.
Have you always been musically inclined?
I started singing when I was 2 years old. I was singing "Heart of My Heart." I never sang in public until I was 32 and I started my first band, McNamara's Other Band, shortly after that. My mother and my father both sang, but not professionally. My father died in 1956 and my mother died in 1966.
Who has most influenced your life?
It would be a toss-up between The Lone Ranger and Robin Hood. And Bing Crosby. Because my father died when I was so young, I had a lot of role models that were nontraditional.
You have a degree in criminal justice. Did you ever work in that field?
I used to work with Children & amp; Youth Services years ago. I was a caseworker.
Are you involved in other activities that relate to your Irish heritage?
I'm president of two Irish organizations: Muintierna h Erieann, an Irish organization based in Mahoning and Trumbull counties that promotes Irish culture through music, lecture and things like that, and the Mercer County Division of The Ancient Order of Hibernians. It's an Irish Catholic men's organization that was founded in 1835 to protect priests and immigrants.
Do you sing in church?
I sing in St. Joseph's choir. We've also raised money for the church organ by setting up a group called Company B and we put on shows. We've raised $10,000 in the past couple of years doing Broadway music. We've done several shows. It's based on the "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B." I'm a church cantor as well.
Tell me about your experience with the Boy Scouts.
I joined Boy Scouts in 1962 and never got a chance to quit. We did neat stuff. We hiked from Sharon to Cook Forest one year, about 85 miles. It took several days. A couple years later, when I was an assistant Scoutmaster, we decided to go the Jamboree in Idaho, so we all bought Schwinn Varsity Sports and we rode our bicycles to Idaho. After that, I got drafted and sent to Germany. Somebody said, "Hey, we understand you were in Scouts back in the states. We need some help with our Scout troops over here."
Are you still involved?
When I came back, I helped with my old troop. Then I dropped out for about three years. I got married. Somebody said, "Hey, we need some help with Scouts again," so I got pulled back in and worked my way through Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting, and now I'm vice chairman of the Chief Kiondashawa District of the French Creek Council.
Are you involved in community service?
I stated donating blood back when I was in college. After I got married, my wife got a job with the Red Cross in blood services. She suggested that I donate platelets. It turns out that I have a high platelet count. They can use them for cancer patients mainly. I give about every month, sometimes twice a month.
What else are you involved in?
If I ever get the time, I'm going to sit down and write one or two books that I've got concepts for. I've got one novel just about worked out completely. It's science fiction. I think it would make a great TV series. The other one is a guide for the nouveau riche. There's all these sports figures and lottery winners who came into fast money and have no guidance how to spend it.