Clouds form in an endless sky I try to wrap my mind around, in a time when raindrops fell upon the naked, native ground, If we could only see what Corona looked like; if only we could travel back in time, far before the copious cookie cutter houses, and prior to the plentiful groves of lemons and oranges; this place was but a desert. Black bears roamed this wilderness, and other wild desert creatures, and even tribes of injuns. But when rich investors and wealthy white land owners decided to exploit this territory, they hired the injuns to kill all the black bears; hoping that families would not be afraid to start a community here. Of course, it did not take much time for the rich white men from the East to kill all the Indians too. They placed the surviving children in schools to Americanize them, and all the black bears vanished from this land; all except for one.
As if it was written in their blood or fated in their family genome, siblings Dani and Jonny (Black Bear) Miller have played folk music together for years. Geneva Miller is the wife of Black Bear, and they have been writing music together since they first started dating in the Spring of 2007. Obsessed with thrift store shopping, and the pursuit of vintage treasures; the Black Bear family met Mike Wilson a few summers ago, while browsing at Salvation Army. He is a manager at the Corona Salvation Army, and he caught Black Bear’s eye one day because ironically, he was the only employee there with a unique vintage style. He was always very friendly, and after a few encounters; they started talking music, Black Bear discovered Mike played drums, and suddenly; he realized they were just destined to jam together, and so, The Cheyenne Autumn Band was formed. After copious shows without a bass player, the band came to the realization that their live was like a bearded man in Snowy Winter, with a beanie and knitted sweater, but no pants. After putting up several online postings stating “Bass Player Needed”, and getting no reply; Black Bear finally decided to search Craigslist where he found the immensely talented Derrick Harvey. Derrick, who happened to be searching for a band to jam with, brought his groovy funk skills to the band, and warmed us right up.
The Cheyenne Autumn band is inspired by 1800s music including frontier music, hymns and negro spirituals, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, folk and folk-rock of the 1960s and 1970s (including Bob Dylan, Creedence, Neil Young, Jackson Browne and The Byrds), and ’90s alternative bands (like Green Day, Oasis and The Wallflowers). Their most contemporary influences are Indie bands like Dawes, Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, Death Cab For Cutie, and Iron and Wine, as well as some lesser known artists like Mariee Sioux and Alela Dianne. They are all heavily influenced by a profound love of nature, and Black Bear’s lyrics are inspired by Greek philosophy and Transcendentalism.
A typical Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band concert is not-so-typical compared to most local bands. They do not use half-stacks and pedal boards; they are very raw and minimalistic. Geneva “Black Rabbit” Miller adds a subtle ambience on the piano, and Dani “Blue Fox” Miller extends that ambience with reverberant arpeggios on the electric guitar. Mike “White Owl” Wilson is a wild monster on drums, brilliantly balancing simplicity in some songs with catchy complex rhythms in others. Derrick “Black Bison” Harvey blends a bit of funky soul with righteous precision on the bass. Finally, Black Bear keeps a steady rhythm on his acoustic guitar. The lead vocal is the most outstanding part of their sound, and the girls’ harmonies perfectly accompany the lead vocal melody in every chorus. Instrumentally, their sound is purposely simple so that the vocals become the main focal point of each tune. Black Bear fills the instrumental sections of each song with a lonely harmonica, adding just the right amount of frontier/folksiness and bluesy lonesomeness to each song.
Though Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band perform every weekend, they plan to play many more shows, and all of them dream of touring. They humbly and anxiously wait for opportunity and fate to come and carry them away. Until they have toured the whole world together, they simply will not rest.