Drifting Compass band

Love Your Local Band: Drifting Compass

Drifting Compass plays Friday, Oct. 21 at Henfling’s

The open road, according to David Miller, is the best place to write. It’s no wonder everyone around town calls him “Nomad.” Actually, he used to be a nomad, quite literally. For seven years, Miller traveled from town to town as a solo singer-songwriter, playing whatever coffee shop would have him.

In 2002, he settled into Santa Cruz, a town he’d frequently stop at on his travels, a perfect town for wanderers. “There was something about Santa Cruz that kept pulling me back,” Miller says.

In the mid-2000s, Miller put together Drifting Compass, taking his heart-on-sleeve, travel-worn sound and giving it a roots rock, Americana feel. The group has released two EPs, the newest of which will be released at their Henfling’s show on Oct. 21. His time on the road has not only influenced his music, it’s helped shape who he is as an artist.

“I pull from a lot of my experiences on the road. Just letting go, and embracing unknown things, and things that come your way. All of that influences the lyrics,” Miller says.

The group has gone through several lineup changes. Lead guitarist Colin Bockman joined five years ago, and gave Miller’s songs a meatier hard-rock sound. Drummer Jeff Smits joined two years ago. Bassist Dana Young joined one year ago.

Some of the music Drifting Compass plays dates back decades to when Miller was still a solo artist, though quite a bit of it is new.

“The songs are more fluid, but by far with a band the songs come across much more powerful. We chunk it up,” Miller says. “Since a band is like a marriage, it’s very important that our personalities mesh well together…and I love who I’m creating music with today in this band.”

INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21. Henfling’s, 9450 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond. Free. 336-9318.

Contributor at Good Times |

Aaron is a hard-working freelance writer with a focus on music, art, food, culture and travel. In addition to Good Times, he's a regular contributor to Sacramento News & Review, VIA Magazine and Playboy. When he's not working, he's either backpacking, arguing about music or working on his book about ska. One thing's for sure—he knows more about ska than you.

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