The Dusty Millers are keeping the family together

“Three part harmony singing in The Dusty Millers is incredibly fun and natural, I enjoy that so much…also it’s so damned portable – all we need is our guitars or nothing at all if it’s acapella."

The Coburg Night Market, organised by the Moreland City Council and held at Bridges Reserve in Coburg, takes place over four Friday nights in the lead up to Christmas. It has provided an experience for the whole family, with evenings of delicious street food from around the world, an impressive display of some of the city’s finest craftsmen, some of the best local acts and a great community atmosphere.
This will be The Dusty Millers’ first time performing at the Market and Lisa Miller – the band’s vocalist and guitarist – says that the band are very excited to have been asked to play at this year’s event.
The Dusty Millers – a folk jazz trio made up of a mother, daughter and sister-in-law – released their self-titled debut EP The Dusty Millers earlier this year. Lisa – one-third of this family trio – has been around the Melbourne music scene and releasing solo material for over 20 years, and says that being in the Dusty Millers is quite different to her solo career. It’s a lot less stressful when you’re not standing on stage by yourself, and instead have your family around you. “Three-part harmony singing in The Dusty Millers is incredibly fun and natural, I enjoy that so much,” she says. “Also it’s so damned portable – all we need is our guitars or nothing at all if it’s acapella.
“That is quite liberating for someone like me who hates busking and singing without amplification – but when it’s three voices it’s really fine and easy. We will have a P.A. along with Sam [Lemann on acoustic and electric guitar] and Tamara [Murphy on double bass] with us at the Coburg Night Market though, and it will be fun. When it’s not fun, we won’t do it anymore for a while.”
Being in a band has its ups and downs, and being in a band with your own family members is an experience within itself. Miller says that being in a family band is mostly fun but can get occasionally stressful when people are tired or grumpy. You’d think that working with your family would make things easier, but it’s getting everyone together that’s proved the biggest challenge. “We played at Golden Plans early this year,” she says. “We had a big family tent situation over the festival weekend and that was really great as we love to hang out together.”
All three members of The Dusty Millers have their own side projects that they have to balance out alongside this band. Loretta Miller, the youngest member, is also a part of Jazz Party, a band that is growing a big fan base around Melbourne. Lisa says that The Dusty Millers are not entirely sure what the future holds for them in terms of recording new music and touring, but they like to keep themselves busy and see where life takes them. “We just had a little bit of time to squeeze in an afternoon of recording between our own projects. We got together in Loretta’s flat with an engineer she knew and roped in Sam Lemann on guitar and Tamara Murphy on double bass and two hours later it was done (apart from another afternoon mixing and one more mastering),” she says.
“Loretta is very busy with Jazz Party – I said, ‘Let’s get something down before her debut record is released or it will never happen.’ Also, Tracey and I play with our own bands. Tracey also guests with Jazz Party and does gospel, western swing/string band and Hawaiian stuff as well as her own thing. I have a folk-country-rock‘n’roll trio that I bring back to life occasionally when I’m writing and testing out new songs.
“Tracey and I have been playing and releasing solo albums for the last 20 years. We have a nifty blend of voices. Sometimes when we listen to playbacks of harmony lines on our phone at rehearsal we can’t tell who’s singing, it is quite weird but good.”

The Dusty Millers will perform at The Coburg Night Market on Friday December 15, with Vulgargrad, Brunswick Gospel Choir, and David Baliban Sitar Duo.