2007.07.22: July 22, 2007: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: Music: Tulsa World: Cameroon RPCV Cindy Cain joins Sparkplug

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cameroon: Peace Corps Cameroon: Peace Corps Cameroon: Newest Stories: 2007.07.22: July 22, 2007: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: Music: Tulsa World: Cameroon RPCV Cindy Cain joins Sparkplug

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Cameroon RPCV Cindy Cain joins Sparkplug

Cameroon RPCV Cindy Cain joins Sparkplug

“One of the reasons for doing this was I was getting tired of being Cindy Cain, solo singer,” she said. “What I really wanted was to be part of a band. And I wanted to sing harmony, not just lead. For us, it’s not ‘Cindy Cain and Sparkplug.’ It’s just Sparkplug.” “I’ve been playing harmonica for a number of years, but never had the confidence to play in public,” Cain said. “I went into the Peace Corps in the ’80s, and I had a bunch of harmonicas I planned to take with me, but they got stolen. So I ended up reading 250 books instead of getting proficient on harmonica."

Cameroon RPCV Cindy Cain joins Sparkplug

Closing the gap with Sparkplug

MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World

Caption: Get your motor running with Sparkplug – Don Miller, Cindy Cain and Rusty Miller. Photo: Michael Wyke, Tulsa World

By JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer


Diva Cindy Cain, axmen Don and Rusty Miller form an electric connection

Put together a singer known for blues and jazz, a guitarist who’s spent years playing bluegrass and country, and another guitarist heavily into jump blues and power pop, and something’s going to spark.

That's the idea behind Sparkplug, a new combo that features Spot Music Award-winning vocalist Cindy Cain along with a pair of unrelated Millers — Rusty and Don — on guitars.

“Well, now, we’re not sure,” Don Miller said. “My family’s from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Rusty’s from Chattanooga. So there may be some family connection somewhere.”

Genetics aside, the Millers and Cain discovered an almost-instant musical bond when they got together to create Sparkplug. And they will be showing off that rapport when they present “Burn Your Playhouse Down” as part of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust’s Summer- Stage Festival.

While Cain’s name is at the forefront of the band’s moniker in advertisements, she doesn’t intend for it to stay there.

“One of the reasons for doing this was I was getting tired of being Cindy Cain, solo singe r,” she said. “What I really wanted was to be part
of a band. And I wanted to sing harmony, not just lead. For us, it’s not ‘Cindy Cain and Sparkplug.’ It’s just Sparkplug.”

The trio selected the name because, as Rusty Miller put it, “I liked that idea of a spark — something electric.” But the name also worked because, Cain said, “it doesn’t really call to mind any particular genre of music.”

A good thing, because Sparkplug is a band that moves easily through every sort of Americana music style you can name.

The title for the band’s Summer- Stage show, for example, comes from an old George Jones song. And Sparkplug’s shows have everything from Bessie Smith blues to Chris Isaak’s moody pop.

“That’s what is so much fun about this group,” Don Miller said. “We all are coming from different musical backgrounds, and bringing all these different infl uences and ideas to what we do.

“Myself, I’m coming from the country and bluegrass side of things,” said Don Miller, who was a member of the popular bluegrass ensemble Heartland Express for 10 years. “But the sort of roots music we’re doing is something I love. I just haven’t had the opportunity to explore it until now.”

In fact, Rusty Miller said, everything the group does is an exploration.

“Most of our shows, it’s just the three of us — two guitars, three voices,” he said. “For us, though, that’s not a limit. It’s a way to explore.”

“Cindy may come in with a tune,” Don Miller said, “and Rusty will say, ‘That’s great — now how can we do it differently?’ We kind of deconstruct a lot of the songs we do — maybe putting a real fl ashy, Jerry Reed kind of guitar line to (Hank Williams’) ‘Hey, Good Lookin’.”

“Basically it ends up with the two of us playing way too much guitar,” Rusty Miller said, laughing.

For the show at the PAC, the trio will be accompanied by bassist Carlos Gornic and drummer Ronnie Armstrong, two of Rusty Miller’s fellow members from the band Boogalu.

But what Sparkplug is aiming for is doing as much as possible with the seemingly stripped down set-up of two acoustic guitars and three voices.

Plus harmonica.

“I’ve been playing harmonica for a number of years, but never had the confi dence to play in public,” Cain said. “I went into the Peace Corps in the ’80s, and I had a bunch of harmonicas I planned to take with me, but they got stolen. So I ended up reading 250 books instead of getting profi cient on harmonica."

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Story Source: Tulsa World

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