Travellin’ Light

Ron Miles
Answers 20 Questions About Life on the Road

Ron Miles
Ron Miles                                           Courtesy of Sterling Circle Records©2007

Ron Miles is a Denver-based brass player and composer perhaps best known for a long association with Bill Frisell, the most recent document of which is Floratone (Blue Note). However, Miles is involved in a number of ongoing projects such as tenor saxophonist Fred Hess’ free-ranging quintet and Wayne Horvitz’s chamber music oriented Gravitas Quartet that reveal his playing to have even more facets than demanded by the guitarist’s genre-bending albums. Additionally, Miles has led several recordings since the mid-1980s; since 2002, Miles has recorded for the Boulder-based Sterling Circle Records, his latest album being Stone/Blossom (2006). When not on the road, Miles coordinates the jazz program at Metropolitan State College of Denver, where he also teaches trumpet and ensembles.

What is the most difficult airline to deal with in terms of instruments and equipment?

I’ve been pretty fortunate. It’s rare that someone from the airline tries to make life difficult. I’ve certainly heard awful stories from other musicians but for me most folks have been cool.

Which airline has the worst economy seating and food?

Well, none of them have any food anymore. And when they do it’s generally not so good. Frontier has good economy seating. The last Delta flight from JFK was good. United is usually good.

Which airport is craziest for making connecting flights?

Warsaw is a pretty wild airport. We have made our connections but it’s definitely touch and go.

What is the most important thing you ever forgot to pack?

This summer I was to go out with Matt Wilson on a Monday and on Saturday I discovered my passport had expired. I was able to delay the flight until Tuesday and the incredibly kind folks at the Denver passport office got me in on Monday without an appointment and out on the same day with a new passport. Got on the Tuesday flight and made it for the Wednesday concert. On this last trip with Wayne (Horvitz), my dad took my horn case out to the car and when I got to the airport, I discovered my horn wasn’t in it. Luckily, we got it back before the plane took off. Outside of that; valve oil when they banned liquid.

What is your worst lost baggage story?

Bags have been lost a few times. But the itinerary has worked out so I’ve been able to get them back in time for the show. This summer with Matt Wilson it didn’t work, but the kind promoter took me out and bought me a change of clothes for the performance

What country hassles musicians the most at customs and passport checks?

Spain and Canada can be a drag, especially for people of color.

Which city has the worst cab drivers?

Everywhere. I just view it kind of like the most serious amusement park ride.

What is the best hotel that a presenter has provided for you?

There have been some nice hotels. Usually the nicer the hotel the shorter, the stay. With Madeleine Peyroux we stayed in a pretty nice hotel in Monaco. Of course we weren’t there very long.

Do you travel with a laptop or a PDA? If so, how many times a day do you check your e-mail?

I travel with a laptop. Usually once or twice a day for email.

Do you listen to music on the road? If so, what device do you use?


Do you do your own laundry on the road?

Yes. Joey Baron turned me on to traveling with quick dry clothes so you can wash them in the sink and they’ll be dry in the morning.

What is your most nightmarish sound check to date?

Not too frequent.

What is the scariest food that has been laid out for you backstage?

Usually the presenters do their best.

What are your three favorite venues?

Old Main in Boulder Colorado., King Center recital hall in Denver, and Mozart Hall in Vienna.

Which cities have the best restaurants for late after-gig meals?

Italy for all meals.

Which cities have the best after-hours sessions?

New York City

What is the best city that closes down too early?


What is the best locale to have a day off?

New York City

What is your cure for jet lag?

Just stay up through the day you arrive. That nap is so tempting but usually throws me off

What is your best tip for the novice?

I’d say consult (PoD’s) archives. For me, making a list is good. In addition to instrument and valve oil, quick dry clothes, an iPod and a good set of closed ear headphones have been great. Also allergy medicine, anti-itch cream, Imodium, batteries, battery powered clippers and a power adapter. AAA has a great traveler’s package with laundry soap, toilet seat covers etc.

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