James Sasser's partner, Chris Miller, plays lap steel and electric guitar for Dave Alvin. Miller's name has also been attached to Asleep at the Wheel, Marcia Ball, Wayne Hancock and Marshall Crenshaw who all tapped into his road dog and recording studio skills via the Austin, Texas, scene where the Portland native had relocated. After a two decade stint there, he's still on the road, but is calling Portland home again, where he teamed up with James Sasser. That Much Further West, a Portland country music podcast, says, "When it comes to country singers in Portland, it just doesn’t get any better than James Sasser." With Miller's experience, you know he has discerning taste.
James Sasser was born, raised, and first taught a version of the Nashville number system by his grandmother in John Day, Oregon, population 1800, two hundered and fourty seven lonesome highway miles east from the big city of Portland. Before Miller and Sasser joined forces, Sasser was proving himself as one of Portland's strongest new country songwriters, landing a few songs on TV and in the movies. A dream come true for any Eastern Oregon singing cowboy, Sasser's music was used for a college championship tournament commercial that ran during the Final Four for Portland's now long gone local brew, Henry Weinhard. His east of the Cascade Mountains twanged singing was attracting attention beyond the Portland country music scene.
Sitting down with James Sasser, who pens classic sounding country songs, I was surprised to find out who first inspired him as a songwriter. I should have been even less surprised that this humble gentlemen and fine songwriter played his partner Chris Miller's song for the episode. But after all, it is a killer tune.
Miller and Sasser's latest album, Tell It To The Jukebox, is out on Never Lucky Records. James Sasser plays Tell It To The Jukebox, the title track, for this episode of The Solar Cabin Sessions.