JP Harris & John R. Miller

JP Harris & John R. Miller

Two songwriters and a fiddle player walk into a room… and record a brilliant session for The Influences. That’s – simply put – what happened eleven months ago at TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht, where JP Harris, John R. Miller and Chloe Edmonstone recorded a session together; playing covers of Blaze Foley and Michael Hurley and an original each. The Hurley song has some of the funniest lyrics you’ll ever hear, and it seems fitting that Miller and Harris – who both have written some of the sharpest and sometimes funny lyrics I’ve heard in a while – cover it together.

Harris and Miller wrote about their cover choices for this joint session, you will find their words below.

A sense of optimistic defeatism.

JP Harris explains his choice for Blaze Foley’s song Clay Pigeons which you might also know from John Prine’s recording: “Blaze Foley’s Clay Pigeons has never left my repertoire since the first time I heard it; there’s a sense of optimistic defeatism in it, melancholy words over major chords, and the idea that the singer could change their ways or simply board a bus and start anew. I’ve always been attracted to the lesser-known country songwriters, the ones with more depth and character to their writing, the ones who were less concerned about making ‘popular’ country music… Blaze Foley fits that bill pretty damn well. Singing this tune with John added new meaning to the line ‘sing a song with a friend, change the shape that I’m in’.”

Quote John about Michael Hurley

John R. Miller has loved Michael Hurley’s music for over fifteen years. “Michael Hurley, or Doc Snock, is one of the greatest American songwriters and folk artists, and his exceptional and singular body of work exists firmly outside the constricts of popular music, trends, common decency, space, and time itself. Slurf Song first appeared on the collaborative 1976 psych-folk record Have Moicy, long considered an outsider classic, among more great songs from Hurley, Pete Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders and Jeffrey Fredericks. It is, absurdly and endearingly, about the communal act of eating food.”

“My own love of Snock goes back only fifteen years or so, but his songs and music have been a deep well of comfort for me for just about any moment, particularly during a generous dose of psychedelics. Detectable beneath the absurdity is an unshakable & wise conviction, deceptively sophisticated level of musicianship, and appreciation for the beauty and weirdness of life as we think we know it. I always come back to his music when I need to remind myself of that.”

This is the third Michael Hurley cover on The Influences in a couple of months time, others were recorded by Kassi Valazza and Hollow Hand.

My favorite country singing carpenter.

Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1983, JP Harris doesn’t fancy himself so much a musician as he does a carpenter who writes country songs. After finishing the eighth grade, he boarded a Greyhound in the middle of an early summer night, and scarcely looked back. Ever since his Dutch bookings agents gifted me a cd of JP Harris’ 2014 album Home Is Where The Hurt Is, I find myself coming back to his music time and time again. 2018’s Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing and 2021’s Don’t You Marry No Railroad Man (an album with traditional songs) only strengthened that. 2021’s single Take Off Your Tin Foil Hat has to be one of the funniest (and depressing) songs in the past few years, and his duet EP Why Don’t We Duet In The Road (Again) (hats off to that title, JP), featuring Elizabeth Cook, Miss Tess and The Influences’ friends Erin Rae and Malin Pettersen should be in everyone’s favorites.

For The Influences he played Barbra Dee – a song containing such beautiful storytelling, Springsteen might be a bit jealous when he’ll hear it.

John R. Miller is on tour in Europe again

John R. Miller grew up in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia near the Potomac River. He belongs to the breed of songwriters whose expansive introspection uncovers many truths about the state of the human condition. Me, personally, I was hooked on his work about forty seconds into Lookin’ Over My Shoulder, the opener of 2021 album Depreciated. On his new album Heat Comes Down, the West Virginia-raised, Nashville-based artist intimately narrates his sleepless nights and nostalgic daydreams, existential dread, and nuanced observations of the troubled world around him. “As much as this record is about anxiety and fear and trepidation, I think it’s also about love,” he says. “My hope is that there’s some universality in the specifics of the songs, and that people find comfort in knowing that someone else feels just the same way they do.”

Next week, John R. Miller is flying back to Europe, for a tour supporting Tyler Childers and a couple of solo shows:

  • Feb 23 // The Slaughtered Lamb // London, UK
  • Feb 29 // Melkweg // Amsterdam, NL

Find tickets on Miller’s website.

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Clay Pigeons (Blaze Foley)
Tidal | Apple Music

Slurf Song (Michael Hurley)
Tidal | Apple Music

JP Harris

Apple Music

John R. Miller

Apple Music


Filmed & edited by Matthijs van der Ven.
Audio recorded & mixed by Matthijs van der Ven.

Featuring Chloe Edmonstone on fiddle.

Utrecht, The Netherlands

Rianne Dolfing
Jaap Bossen 
Sedate Bookings
Maarten Lammers

There is no better way to discover music than watching great musicians cover the songs they love. The Influences has been producing these videos ever since 2008.

Read more.

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