Tucson country singer Mark Miller has been writing songs since he was in high school, but the Sabino High grad never really thought much of them.
“I didn’t think they were any good,” said the 24-year-old Columbus, Mississippi, native who grew up in Tucson and has been performing for four or five years.
But even so, he would road-test a few of those originals in his live shows at a handful of Tucson bars including Cowpony, Saguaro Corners and Marana’s The Station, sneaking them in between covers of songs by his 1990s country heroes including Garth Brooks, George Strait and Brooks & Dunn, and his new favorites Cody Johnson and Luke Combs.
Last summer, he decided it was time to go all in on his music career. He teamed up with Duhamel “Du” Cassell — aka Tucson-based DJ Du — to record an EP of six songs he had written over the years. The EP is still a work in progress and could be released early next year. On Aug. 14, he released the first single, “Run Away With Me.”
Cassell, who has toured with the likes of Jason Aldean and shared the stage with other Nashville superstars including Luke Bryan and Locash, said the pair began working on the song last summer. But after months of tinkering, Cassell said it needed a little umph to make it more radio friendly. So he reached out to the band members of Locash, the Nashville duo of Preston Brust and Chris Lucas (“I Love This Life,” “I Know Somebody”), who recorded the guitars, bass and drum parts from their respective studios. Tucson country singer Robert Moreno played keyboards on the song, which was Miller’s first ever single.
“I’m extremely happy with it and thankful for Du for helping out,” Miller said.
“Run Away With Me” is a boy-meets-girl/girl-has-a-boyfriend tale of romantic woe that Miller wrote from personal experience. The song was inspired by a girl he met at the now-closed Denim & Diamonds country night club on East Broadway. When he asked her to dance, she told him she was taken. Toward the end of the song, he pleads with her: “I’m leaving Tucson on a one-way flight / So run away / Run away with me tonight.”
Miller had written the song three or four years ago and was playing it in his live shows, where his audiences would often ask where they could get the recording.
Cassell, a partner in the year-old Marana country night club Whiskey Roads, said Miller’s EP is one song away from being finished. The pandemic actually made it a little easier to recruit top-notch Nashville players to participate, although many of them are now back to work doing recording projects as their communities slowly start to reopen from months of being shut down due to COVID-19.
“I believe in this project,” Cassell said. “I can’t wait to get the whole thing out. Mark honestly is a dynamic performer on stage. ... The girls love him and he’s very country.”
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch
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