Meet the Band
Art’s interest in music began when he was a young child, watching his uncles play guitar and sing country music. After watching them just a few minutes, Art knew that this was his passion and the journey began. Being born and raised in Upper Michigan, country music was a strong influence and still shows today in his songwriting. He purchased his first guitar as a teenager, which he paid for with his own money. After graduating high school, Art moved to the Chicago area where he met his best friend, Ray Hughes, a talented musician. Art’s first band with Ray was called Black Water Fever, and they played locally in the Chicago area. In 1979, Art formed the band StarrCruiser which played the tri-state area and became a well-known rock act. StarrCruiser played at ChicagoFest and opened for national acts such as Survivor, Donnie Iris and Ruby Starr. After taking a break to raise his family, Art started back into music by forming the band Backyard in 1999. They played contemporary rock music together until 2017 when they disbanded. Thats when Art formed the band Southbound to play southern rock and country, which is the direction Art has always wanted to go with his music.
Richard “Dick” V. Miller Sr.
Dick was born February 14th, 1954 and grew up in Cooks, Michigan. He is a self-taught drummer, who started playing at age 15 on an old pearl drum set. He practiced for a year before playing out with his first band. Though he is not sure what the name of that band was, he remembers that it was a good learning experience. Dick played with several other bands before moving to Milwaukee when he was around 20 years old. While living in Milwaukee, he played with a band named Freewheel for about two years. After that he joined another band called, Music Review. He had several promo pictures taken with this group and played a few events like, MIT. At 25 years old, Dick moved to the Chicago area. He joined the band, StarrCruiser alongside his brother and Southbound bass player, Art Miller. They performed opening acts around the Chicago area for bands such as Survivor, Donnie Iris and Gambler. For several years Dick played with different members under the StarrCruiser name in the Chicago area. In the early 90’s, Dick formed a band called, MAKWA (Black bear in Chippewa). They played different clubs around Chicago and Wisconsin. He played with this band for about a decade before deciding to take some time off. Of course, they still got together once in a while to knock the rust off. Eventually, Dick started to run sound for his brother’s band called, Backyard. Their drummer became ill and was not able to continue playing with the band so Dick was asked to join. He played with them until 2017 when he joined together with his brother and friends to form the band Southbound.
Ray was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and started playing guitar when he was about 10 years old. A year later, what would then become a defining moment in his life, he saw his first live concert, The Beatles at White Sox Park. Ray lived in a musical family, and he was encouraged by his father to take guitar lessons to understand and get the basics down. He advanced quickly on his own afterwards, developing his rock and blues playing style. Later when he and his family moved to the Chicago suburbs, he met new friends that loved the same kind of music he did. Jamming with friends, he learned Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and several other bands that were creating the new sound of the late 60s and early 70s.
After graduating high school, Ray met Art Miller, who at the time played guitar and formed the band called Blackwater Fever. Ray also played with other bands in the area, eventually reuniting in 1979 with Art and Dick Miller in their band StarrCruiser. The band did the midwest circuit, playing different venues and even had the opportunity to play at Taste of Chicago on stage at Navy Pier. Ray left StarrCruiser in 1986. Ray later became one of the founding members of, “Rude Mood” with drummer John Kunches and bassist Mike Williams who played power blues and rock. After Rude Mood disbanded, Ray became interested in recording studio projects, assisting other musician friends with demos and several parodies of Beatle tunes that were aired on WXRT with Bob Dobro.
After playing at a Miller Fest one summer, several band members from StormCrow witnessed Ray playing with old friends and immediately asked him to join their band. Well versed by now in the studio, Ray produced a very high quality demo for their band, and played with them for several years afterwards. To this day, if you go to their website, the same demo is used to advertise their talents. Everything coming full circle, Ray joined up again with the Miller brothers and now plays lead guitar and mandolin in the band, being very influenced by his friend Andy Hagen to try this new instrument. This has added to Ray’s repertoire and adds a unique sound to Southbound.
Bill Brightwell (Billy, Billy B)
Bill is a journeyman musician, who has been working his craft since he was 7 years old. Like many youngsters, Bill’s first band was in jr. high school. He continued playing through high school, college and into his adult life, to progress in his understanding of music over the years.
Bill joined Southbound 2 years ago in 2019. He has been assisting the band with musical arrangements, song selection and vocal arrangements.
There are several styles of music at Bill’s command, including country, country rock, rock, blues, jazz and folk. Bill provides rhythm guitar, lead guitar, guitar fill work, backing vocals as well as lead vocals for Southbound. Bill can play a multitude of instruments and has a great number of musical influences. Bill’s primary musical influences include Steve Morse, Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Steve Lukather, Rick Derringer, Joe Walsh, Pat Travers, older brother John Brightwell, his uncle Wayne Effler and many, many more. Bill’s music stylings are a combination of all of the above, plus his own musical intuitions. Music is how Bill best expresses himself to those around him. He enjoys playing- It’s a life long passion that he truly enjoys sharing with others.
Bill’s music philosophy: “Music is about learning, and teaching, and it truly is a craft, like wood working, cooking, etc. It takes a long time to become comfortable with one’s own skill level. Once that is achieved, then true musical growth can continue, and tends to excel.”
My dad singing along to the radio got me started, he was a terrible singer! But it didn’t stop him. BJ Thomas Hooked on a Feeling will never sound the same without my Dad’s back-ups. In 8th grade I decided to start sharing my craft of singing as Curly in OKLAHOMA, High School was the next step and my music instructor had us perform Satisfaction by the Stones, Paranoia by the Kinks and various other acts. That was it, this is where I would plant my flag! Went out of school into a Glam band JYNXT that did originals and covers, the only problem was… We weren’t that original. Times changed and I found that I had a great voice for Grunge… Enter the band INHALE. From there I’ve always played in a variety of bands, ZSHARPE, FAQ and the ANTEDOTE, opening for acts like the Gin Blossoms and the Smithereens. Whether its Southern Rock, Grunge, Country or just Pop, Count me in!!!!
Started playing the trumpet and hammond organ at age 10. Studied music major and theory at MCC while playing in numerous bands. Played keyboards, piano, organ in such Chicagoland groups as Tactic, Spellbinder and Bobby Heat in the 80’s. The Commitment Style band Big Steps all through the 90’s. 2002 through 2020 playing in RTE 66 & A Whole Lotta Elvis band. Doing corporate Caterpillar events, various festivals opening up for Blood Sweat & Tears, Chicagoland clubs and Casinos.
Meet the Band
Richard “Dick” V. Miller Sr.
Bill Brightwell (Billy, Billy B)