Western Centuries, Donna the Buffalo Founding Member Jim Miller Dies on Tour
Jim Miller, part of the roots music trio Western Centuries and a founding member of Donna the Buffalo, died last week from cardiac arrest while on tour in Boston.
“We’re all absolutely heartbroken and speechless right now,” Western Centuries posted on its social media channels Friday. “Jim was family, and we’re all struggling to understand this right now.”
We're so sorry to announce that Jim Miller unexpectedly passed away last night. We’re all absolutely heartbroken and speechless right now. Jim was family, and we’re all struggling to understand this right now pic.twitter.com/Wvf4ZXPmXp
— Western Centuries (@WCenturies) March 25, 2022
Miller was 69 years old and in good health, according to a press release Tuesday providing details on his passing. Most recently, he was touring and recording with Western Centuries, alongside fellow songwriters Cahalen Morrison and Ethan Lawton. Live and on their latest album, 2020’s Call the Captain (ND review), the trio were known for their insightful writing and easy swaps on instruments and lead duties. In addition to his work with Donna the Buffalo for 15 years after founding the band with Tara Nevins, Miller also collaborated with Dirk Powell, Rosie & Richie Stearns, Jim Lauderdale, Ginny Hawker, and Tim O’Brien.
“I feel so unbelievably fortunate to have been able to spend so much time with him,” Morrison says, “and experience life with him, and try and see the world through his lens. The man knew how to live.”
Lawton called Miller “a loving mentor and teammate in so many ways, but most of all a dear pal.”
Miller was born in Boston but spent much of his childhood in Canada, soaking in the roots music his parents enjoyed and finding a particular interest in folk music and old-time. He also developed, via his ecologist father, an interest in nature. In addition to music, he was also a respected lepidopterist — a scientist specializing in butterflies and moths – and for a time worked as an associate curator in entomology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He was considered an expert on moths in South America.
Western Centuries had just finished recording a new album recently; there is no word yet about plans for its release.
A GoFundMe has been set up for financial support as the band has canceled its remaining tour dates to grieve.