VELVETEEN BLUE
(Mezzanine, The Suicide Doors, and The HuManiquins)
Shlock-Pop Slap-Sappy Lounge Trio
(2003 ~ 2005)

"... channeling Bryan Ferry with Spike Jones as music director ..."
Bob Strauch

"... The King, on bad acid..."
Larynx Eon Zillion


Laurence Miller a.k.a.Yours Truly:
Vocals and backing tracks (sequenced digital drums, keyboard, electric guitar, Bb clarinet, etc)
Brian Delanie a.k.a. B Deluxe:
Vintage Electric Guitar
Eric Bernreughter a.k.a. Sliced Holmes:
Home-blown Slide Trombone


                          
VELVETEEN BLUE "Live" at the prestigious FIRE FLY Jazz Club in Ann Arbor, fall 2003.
YOURS TRULY          B DELUXE                           SLICED HOLMES


BRIEF HISTORY

This page covers the whole comic lounge phenomena which Laurence traveled on and off for over 12 years. VELVETEEN BLUE, the final stop, formed in 2003 as an odd mix of an "over the top romantic sentiment" mixed with "bastardized existential comedy".  This was his eventual answer to the now defunct retro lounge music resurgence of the 1990's.   As a trio, VELVETEEN BLUE performed against original backing tracks, coming off as a surreal, shlock-pop jazz sextet.
It's precursor, MEZZANINE, started it all of course, back when the retro lounge style was so popular in the mid 90's.  (More information on this band found at the bottom of this page.)  As a five piece their claim to fame was opening up for LARYNX ZILLION'S NOVELTY SHOP, in 1994, at Ann Arbor's Blind Pig.   Who would have thunk?

VELVETEEN BLUE, after playing the prestigious Fire Fly Club in Ann Arbor in 2003, went into the studio to record a quality demo for actual gigging purposes.  Without seeing this bloom into full fruition, the band quickly faded into an existential comedy shtick duo with just Laurence and Brian Delaney. This version was not unlike what he was trying to do with twin brother Benjamin Miller in the late 90's.  This didn't last.

HISTORY:
It all started back in 1993, while Laurence was cutting the back-40.  Moronic Elivs interpretations would come to mind with absolute screw ball demos ensuing shortly, thereafter.  Songs like "Knock First, My Love",  "Gentleman of Honor", and "Can't Crap For Nothin".  By 1994 he'd written a few half-serious numbers and quickly formed an actual group with current members from his band LARYNX ZILLION'S NOVELTY SHOP. Laurence called this mock lounge act, MEZZANINE".  MEZZANINE recorded a few original numbers in the studio, and opened up for LARYNX ZILLION'S NOVELTY SHOP at the Blind Pig where they sported a haunting version of David Lynch's MYSTERY OF LOVE from the film Blue Velvet.

The band began playing out at Ann Arbor's coffee shop, THE GYPSY CAFE, from 1995 thru 1996 with mixed results.  Very few seemed to have any idea we were "trying to be like that" so, as LARYNX ZILLION'S NOVELTY SHOP folded in 1997, so did MEZZANINE." 

Laurence eventually gathered professional experience under his belt, crooning lead for David Swain's II-V-I Jazz Orchestra. Playing the Hiedleburg, Clutch Cargo's, weddings and special events spurred his interest on. 
Miller tried resurrecting MEZZANINE again, this time as a duo with twin brother, Benjamin Miller, calling themselves THE SUICIDE DOORS They fancied the idea of taking the comedy route, seriously. Home videos were shot and song lists grew but sadly their take on it all would have been too whacked for the public at large.  Though Laurence and Ben considered cleaning up their act and going pro, it was clearly impossible.   They were that good.

By 1999 things came to a head.  Laurence ended up solo in the display window of Ann Arbor's antique resale shop, SARAH'S ATTIC, singing along to the original demo tracks for the sidewalk crowd on football Saturdays.  Seriously.  Music was pumped out into the street while Laurence performed, garnished with "live" manikins (coined HuManiquinns -- see pics below) with galkers stumbling by in utter amazement.  Nightmarishly surreal and no cover charge.  Ann Arbor had no idea what good thing it had. At the turn of the century however, it seemed all was for naught...

Suddenly, in 2003, Miller resurrected the whole concept yet once again, this time calling it VELVETEEN BLUE inspired by David Lynch's film Blue Velvet.  "The scary thing is that I took it seriously this time." says Miller. Hiring local guitarist Brian Delaney (B Deluxe)  from THE ROYALLE GARDEN TRIO and digging up the original trombonist for LARYNX ZILLION'S NOVELTY SHOP, Erik Beurnrighter (Sliced Holmes), Miller hoped to put together something viable.  His idea was to perform along to various old and new backing tracks as a surreal shlock pop jazz trio.  Amazingly enough, VELVETEEN BLUE managed to snag a gig at the prestigious jazz club THE FIRE FLY, get hired for birthday parties, book themselves in at Dreamland Theatre, and shoot a community television music video collection, "Shoot The Piano Man"This production won Finalist Award at 2004 Philo T. Farnsworth Festival.

 


Shortly thereafter, VELVETEEN BLUE went into Brian's studio to record a pro-demo for "straight" gigging purposes.  However, having lost their trombonist by that point, VELVETEEN BLUE was destined to quickly devolve from there (much like it's predecessors) into an existential comic routine.

Brian Delaney as B Deluxe and Laurence Miller as Yours Truly continued on a couple more gigs that year at Dreamland Theatre, dragging their mind numbing performance art into the mix.  No one seemed to understand nor appreciate the sheer beauty of their collective madness.  Little Surprise.

Example 1:  Before taking the stage, there would be a three minute recording of people coughing, playing in the background.  That's correct. Coughing and coughing.  Miller would then scramble on stage, seemingly agitated, getting ready to start the show alone, when B. Deluxe suddenly steps into the club as if way late for the show.  Miller went off on him while the crowd thinking it was serious, sat horrified...

Example 2:
In the spacial mid section to their original arrangement of Twilight Time by The Platters, B. Deluxe would suddenly sit down on a stool and pretend to roast weenies over a fire pit, while Miller played a suspended, surreal dream-scape on the keyboard.  Who would have thunk?

VELVETEEN BLUE , now struggling as a studio only duo, Laurence and Brian dubbed their parts on the bulk of their backing tracks for their first CD.  This was comprised mostly of originals, but never saw the light of day.  Laurence and Brian eventually gave up the ghost entirely, sometime in 2005.  The band never completed the CD release and as a performing act has not been seen since.

 


VELVETEEN BLUE "Live" at DREAMLAND THEATRE New Year's Eve, 2003.
YOURS TRULY     B DELUXE                       SLICED HOLMES



VELVETEEN BLUE  for your listening pleasure


           TWILIGHT TIME
          Lyrics written by Buck Ram, and music written in 1944 by the Three Suns
          (Morty Nevins, Al Nevins and Artie Dunn).

LBM www V - Twilight.mp3 LBM www V - Twilight.mp3
Size : 4.187 Kb
Type : mp3

            I'M R.S.V.P.ING
          Music and Words by Jimothy Juback

LBM www V - RSVP.mp3 LBM www V - RSVP.mp3
Size : 2.585 Kb
Type : mp3

          SLEEPY EYES
          Music and Words by Yours Truly

LBM www V - Sleepy Eyes 1.mp3 LBM www V - Sleepy Eyes 1.mp3
Size : 4.173 Kb
Type : mp3

            WITH THE RHYTHM OF THE WAVES
          Music and Words by Yours Truly

LBM www V - Rhythm Waves.mp3 LBM www V - Rhythm Waves.mp3
Size : 3.625 Kb
Type : mp3



MEZZANINE
That lonely half-floor in between
(1993 ~ 1996)

"... a slap-sappy lounge-ish act, not too unlike Elvis Presly
on bad acid, under the direction of David Lynch..."
Paul McCartney


QUARTETTE
Laurence Miller a.k.a. Yours Truly: Vocals
Chris Casello a.k.a. Buzz Amerika: Electric Guitar
Chris Smith a.k.a. Hubba Chubba Bubba: Trombone and Slide Cornet
David Swain a.k.a. Chip Reed: Bass
(Sometimes as a quintette with late drummer, Buzzie a.k.a. Buzzie: Drums)

 Yes, it's true.  Other than our drummer, this band was essentially  THE NOVELTY SHOP, charading as a 50's throw back loung act.  God help us all. 

 

                                                                                                                   MEZZANINE "live" at The Gypsy Cafe, Ann Arbor, 1996

                                                                                                                                      Buzz Amerika       Yours Truly          Hubba Chubba Bubba        Chip Reed

 


MEZZANINE  MP3's  for your listening pleasure


 Laurence Miller a.k.a. Yours Truly, hamming it up in Chicago,
for MEZZANINE'S demo cover.

(1994)


A mock poster Laurence drew up, back in the day.
(Little did he know he'd actually get to play that venue!)


               
            SHOOT THE PIANO MAN

               Lyrcs by Yours Truly and Suzan Whiles
               Music by Yours Truly

LBM www Mezz - Shoot the Piano Man.mp3 LBM www Mezz - Shoot the Piano Man.mp3
Size : 3.289 Kb
Type : mp3
              
              
          TENNESSEE WALTZ
               Music and Words  by Pee Wee King and Red Stuwart

LBM www Mezz - Tennis Waltz.mp3 LBM www Mezz - Tennis Waltz.mp3
Size : 2.366 Kb
Type : mp3
              
              
             SLEEPY EYES
              Music and Words by Yours Truly

LBM www Mezz - Sleepy Eyes.mp3 LBM www Mezz - Sleepy Eyes.mp3
Size : 4.242 Kb
Type : mp3

 



THE SUICIDE DOORS
A comic act, never intended for the masses
(1997 ~ 1999)

DUO
Laurence Miller a.k.a. Yours Truly:
Vocals, etc
Ben Miller a.k.a. Mr. Sincerely (sometimes known as "Mr. Mirror", or simply "Pedro"):
Guitar, C Melody Saxophone, and harmony voice

Though Ben and I did start out as "pure comic chaos" in the finest sense, The Suicide Doors did eventually move into a more forward leaning, professional disposition.
Check the pic below. Too bad this trend didn't do us any good, so we shut our fingers in the door.



As this concept of humor & retro nostalgia fumed and sputtered thru the 90's, Laurence would find himself performing solo from time to time,
both accappella and with backing tracks.  He performed in his twin bro's avant guard performance art opera, WHY DOES THE DIRT
JUST SIT THERE?, in Chicago, on
more than one occassion.  He also MC'ed for his friend's swing dance troupe,
THE SWING KIDS, during gorilla street performances at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. 

"I'd do my best, barking in their favor, and then proceed to attract a good crowd
for them, singing accapella like the bullheaded buffoon that I am."

His biggest triumphs in this MC solo presentation were his two original numbers,
KISS ME, PLEASE KISS ME (Please, kiss me, please?)
and BY INVITATION ONLY.



 YOURS TRULY and The Humaniquinns

 

Here we see YOURS TRULY performing solo in the display window
of SARAH'S ATTIC, on 10/21/00, a long since defunct vintage retail store in Ann Arbor.  Dig them reflections in the window, man.  This was a semi regular happening on football Saturdays, in the fall of 1999 thru 2000.  YOURS TRULY would sing along to the original tracks from his band's demos, pumped out into the street, while standing in the presense of "live" manikins. "We called ourselves The HuManiquins. I can't tell you how much fun that was. Passerbys would literally freak, not knowing if we were real or not.  And, I've got video footage to prove it.  'Look! He moved!'  ...oh, please"

 The Humaniquins in action at Sarah's Attic.
""Standing around on the job"


____________________________

AOK. So, it was after this whole thing that Yours Truly took a final rest from
it all, only to return suddenly, if not for just a brief and lovely
15 minutes of fame, with VELVETEEN BLUE...

(Back up to top of page!)