It’s been more than 30 years since the last Crater Festival, and the Steve Miller Band still loves playing live most of all
The Steve Miller Band was one of the very first groups to play inside Diamond Head Crater back in its hippie-happy heyday, and when Miller was approached to appear in this new incarnation, he didn't hesitate to accept.
Diamond Head Crater Celebration
When: noon to 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $125 general, $135 to $175 reserved, available at the Blaisdell Center box office and Ticketmaster outlets
Call: 591-2211 or visit ticketmaster.com
Note: Parking is free in auxiliary lots, with round-trip shuttle service. No walk-ins. Call 735-7000 or visit cratercelebration.com
Also: Rain or shine. If rain, ponchos allowed; no umbrellas
» 2 p.m.: Opening ceremony, Kenny Endo's Taiko Academy of the Pacific and Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu
» 2:20 p.m.: Na Leo and Yvonne Elliman, with Honolulu Symphony Pops
» 3:20 p.m.: Blues 'n' rock bands Analog, Downtown Charlie and the Humbones
» 3:55 p.m.: WAR
» 5:20 p.m.: Linda Ronstadt
» 6:45 p.m.: Steve Miller Band
Speaking from his home in the mountains of Sun Valley in Ketchum, Idaho, the avuncular Miller remembers a bit of that day in the late 1960s.
"We had just recorded the album 'Sailor' when we came over, and we stayed at this amazing old place, this beautiful house on Diamond Head," he said. "It felt like there were a gazillion people in the crater that day. Before that, we used to play Oahu quite a bit, but this was our first really big outdoor festival. It was a big hippie gathering.
"Outdoor festivals were such a brand new thing back then ... and we were all thrilled to do it. We probably played our hits from then, like 'Livin' in the USA,' and Boz (Scaggs) was, I think, still in the band."
Since then, he and the band have made a comfortable living with large outdoor shows. Harmonica player and singer Norton Buffalo has played with Miller for 31 years, and the "junior" lineup (putting in 16 to 18 years) are guitarist/vocalist Kenny Lee Lewis, drummer Gordy Knudtson, bassist Bill Petersen and keyboardist Joseph Wooten, brother of Victor Wooten, a member of Bela Fleck's Flecktones.
"We've been touring nonstop since 1988, and we're not an oldies circuit band," Miller said. "Every summer, we do about 40 cities, and a lot of festivals."
WHILE MILLER is content to keep his distance from the record industry, he is throwing his support behind the reissue of one of his classic albums on the Capitol Records label.
"They're actually coming out with a 30th anniversary edition of 'Fly Like an Eagle.' The deal is, is that it'll include some unreleased material, and in a 5.1 surround-sound mix. People will hear it the way I originally wanted it done, when the album was originally recorded for quadraphonic sound systems. In going though the archives, we transferred the demos for 'Rock Me,' 'Take the Money and Run' and 'Fly Like an Eagle' that all had totally different lyrics.
"We also recorded a special concert in San Francisco back in September that we're right in the process of mixing. It'll be a CD/DVD release sometime in May, with special guests like Joe Satriani and George Thorogood. ... In the meanwhile, we're mixing in a lot of jazz and blues in our concert sets. ... Of course, we do our greatest hits and some acoustic stuff. It's a blend of everything.
"We've very much an alive, growing band. It's a musical experience, with lots of jamming. Our forté is as a live act. We love to play, and I really enjoy what I do."