Jacksonville Concert Promoter Tib Miller had an Insatiable Need to Share Music

Photograph of Tib Miller
Longtime local impresario Tib Miller, of Flying Saucer Presents, spinning 45's before one of the hundreds of concerts he brought to Northeast Florida | Credit: Andrew Bowe Douglass

Jacksonville’s creative community lost an integral, if not low-key, impresario this week. 

If you’ve been to a concert in Northeast Florida and seen a band that surprised you, or if you bought tickets to a show and thought, “Wow, I can’t believe this artist is coming to Jacksonville,” it’s likely that Tib Miller booked it. For nearly 25 years, working under the banner of Flying Saucer Presents, Miller was responsible for putting on hundreds of shows at nearly every venue — large and small — on the First Coast.

Miller died on Tuesday after a private battle with cancer. He was 59.

A humble and relaxed presence, if you showed up early enough to a Flying Saucer show, you may have caught a glimpse of the stylishly-dressed Miller spinning 45’s from his extensive collection of soul, blues and jazz rarities. Though his name may not have been well-known to the majority of the thousands who attended his shows over the last two decades, Miller was a revered figure in the local music community, having brought countless performers — both mainstream and left-of-field — to the area. From Sun Ra Arkestra to Taj Mahal, Wilco, The B-52’s, Link Wray, Jimmy Cliff, Mavis Staples, Bela Fleck, and so on, Miller’s musical tastes were as unimpeachable as they were far ranging.

Even when not well-attended, Miller’s shows never disappointed. In the last year, for example, he brought emerging artists like Laney Jones and Buffalo Nichols — fresh off a performance on syndicated late-night television — for intimate shows in front of two-dozen people, or less. Meanwhile the majority of his shows at Blue Jay Listening Room, the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, Intuition Ale Works, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, etc. consistently sold out, or came close to it. Miller was also integral in securing the lineups for St. Augustine’s Sing Out Loud festival and the Fort Mose Jazz and Blues Series.

“I realized that if something was going to happen in Jacksonville with these artists I loved, I was going to have to do it.”

Jacksonville promoter Tib Miller

Miller launched Flying Saucer Presents in 1998, shortly after moving to Jacksonville from the Northeast. A lifelong record collector with an insatiable curiosity for both discovering and sharing music, Miller decided to start booking bands at area venues after a short-lived run showcasing his eclectic tastes as a DJ on Jacksonville University’s WFIN radio station. In a 2012 profile in Folio Weekly, Miller told writer Nick McGregor, “I realized that if something was going to happen in Jacksonville with these artists I loved, I was going to have to do it.”

There were hits and misses — financially speaking — for Flying Saucer. But Miller embraced the challenge of bringing world-class and under-the-radar talent to a city that’s often overlooked by booking agents, telling Folio in 2012, “The business disasters are often the grandest artistic successes. I’m no stranger to beautiful disasters.”

Tib Miller Folio Weekly cover
A 2012 issue of Folio Weekly, which featured a profile of Miller

No doubt Miller’s legacy will live on through the venues whose audiences he helped cultivate with his broad-ranging programming and the hundreds of artists who, because Miller brought them here to begin with, have made Jacksonville a regular stop on their tour itineraries.

Meanwhile, there are currently more than a dozen Flying Saucer concerts scheduled for 2022 and 2023. Among the notables: Georgia alt-country band Futurebirds at Intuition on December 3, bluegrass ace Ricky Skaggs at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall on January 20, pioneering Americana artist Steve Forbert at Blue Jay Listening Room on January 27, and, fittingly, a band that was somewhat of a white whale for Miller during his time as an area talent buyer, the wildly popular Scottish indie-pop band Belle and Sebastian will play the Backyard Stage at The Amp in May of 2023.

Miller’s daughter, Pepper, will be taking over future Flying Saucer promotions. Tickets and more information can be found on Flying Saucer’s website.

Below, members of Northeast Florida’s arts and culture community remember Tib Miller. And keep scrolling for the complete list — nearly-500-artists long — of all the performers Miller brought to Northeast Florida.

“Tib loved music and the shows he promoted were his passion.”Tim Hall, owner/operator, Jack Rabbits; Promoter, Jax Live Presents

“Tib was a genuine believer that music can change the world. He certainly had his own opinions, but his work was never about him, or his brand, or his ego. He did what he did because he loved it and he loved music. I grew up waiting for Flying Saucer shows to be announced, he took risks on underground artists I wanted to see but that nobody else would take a chance on. The first time we met in person was during a show we collaborated on. He was wearing a silk shirt, an ascot, and had a suitcase of 45’s ready to go. He listened as much as he talked and he always had his ear to the ground for new talent and inspiration.”Glenn Michael Van Dyke, musician and promoter, Winterland Presents

“Tib Miller was my Yoda. Blue Jay [Listening Room] would not be what it is today without his guidance. He brought artists to my venue that I never could have imagined having the privilege to host. He was a bright, beautifully honest light in my life — like a super hip, vintage lamp made of shiny leather with a red-paisley fabric shade.”Cara Murphy, owner/operator, Blue Jay Listening Room

“Tib and I bonded over our passion for live music and disdain for ‘corporate’ music and venues.  I thought I had a deep knowledge of music, but then I met Tib, who was a walking encyclopedia! His love and respect for music and musicians is what made him a great promoter. Everyone loved working with him, from national artists from all over the country as well as local artists. If you’ve been to a great concert in Jacksonville or Saint Augustine in the past decade or more, chances are it was because Tib brought the artist here.”Liz McCoy, Executive Director, James Weldon Johnson Park; Former Director, Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts and the Ritz Theatre and Museum.

“Tib’s contribution to North Florida’s musical scene is immeasurable. He especially enjoyed hosting acts who had never visited the area before, knowing that they’d love it here and keep coming back in the future. He took immense pride in the little details. Everything from the cookies in the green room, to the lighting at the venue, to the old-45 records he’d play on stage before each show. He understood that these were the touches that made a night special for everyone. He was a visionary and a pioneer. He had a singular sense of fashion and had his own immovable ethical code that informed every move he made in life.”Brad Lange, COO, Intuition Ale Works

“Tib was a force of nature that truly changed the music and cultural landscape of Northeast Florida forever. Tib cared more about doing what is right and what is true and pure to the art of music than anyone I have ever met.”–Ryan Murphy, General Manager, Orion Amphitheatre; Former General Manager, St. Augustine Amphitheatre

“Promoting concerts in this area is a stressful, thankless task, but Tib did it for years with more passion than almost anyone. He cared very much about the artists he booked, and the fans who supported their work. He was probably the first person to really make optimal use of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. All they have accomplished in recent years is built on the firm foundation that he helped build. He gave this community everything he had, until he had nothing left to give, and then kept giving. As artists, writers, musicians and fans, all of our lives have been greatly enriched because of his work.”Shelton Hull, journalist

“Tib was an original in a city of homogenized things. We shared a love of music; that was our bond. We both loved New Orleans, and its music. We listened to the same bands, and the fact is he brought many to Jacksonville knowing full well he was going to lose money booking them. He brought them here for the eccentrics and himself.”–Neil Armingeon, former St. Johns Riverkeeper

“While it might seem trite or even sappy, Tib’s role as an impresario was more of that of a musical conductor than mere promoter: he essentially worked with local venues as his instrument and like the edgier musicians who brought to the area, he took risks. For a devoted family man, these were certain financial leaps of faith. While an Elvis Costello and Wilco gig would surely put him financially in the black, profits from a surefire success would trickle down to bring in the esoteric artists that Tib loved and championed, musicians like Link Wray, Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks, Eugene Chadbourne, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot; to name just a few of the hundreds of touring and local musicians that he brought to the stage. Tib Miller’s loss will be felt most by those who knew him but will surely be felt in absentia: in some ways a  legacy watching from the wings of a community and music scene that Tib indelibly changed and improved.–Daniel A. Brown, musician and journalist

A complete list of artists Tib Miller brought to Northeast Florida:

A Fragile Tomorrow, Ace Winn, Acid Dad, Aisler’s Set, Alejandro Escovedo, Alejandro Escovedo & His Band, Alfred Banks, Allen Toussaint, Allison Moorer, All Them Witches, Alphonso Jr., Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters, Amanda Shires & Her Band, American Aquarium, Amy Ray & Her Band, Amy Speace, Amythyst Kiah, Ana Egge, Anders Osborne, Ani DiFranco, Anne McCue, Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets with Sam Myers, Ashleigh Flynn, Asleep at the Wheel, Aubrie Sellers, Aztec Two-Step, Bahamas, Banditos, Barry Greene Trio, Basia Bulat, Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet, Ben de la Cour, Ben Dickey, Ben Reel, Ben Sollee, Bettye LaVette, Big Al Anderson, Big Sandy, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Bill “Sauce Boss” Wharton, Bill Maher, Billy Joe Shaver, Black Francis, Black Joe Lewis, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bo Diddley, Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys, Bon Iver, Booker T. & the MGs, Booker T. Jones, Boozoo Chavis, Bottle Rockets, Brett Dennen, Bright Light Social Hour, Broken Social Scene, Bronze Radio Return, Bruce Cockburn, Bruce Hornsby, Buckwheat Zydeco, Buffalo Nichols, Buick 6, Cain’t Never Could, California Guitar Trio, Canary in the Coalmine, Carly Burruss, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Caroline Rose, Carrie Rodriguez, Cat Power, Cedric Burnside, Cereus Bright, Charley Crockett, Charlie Hickey, Charlie Hunter Trio, Chatham County Line, Cheap Trick, Cheryl Wheeler, Chicago Farmer, Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez, Chris Smither, Chris Thile – Aoife O’Donovan, Christian McBride, Christina Wagner, Chuck Prophet, Chuck Prophet & Mission Express, Circles Around The Sun, CJ Chenier, CJ Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Clarence Carter, Clem Snide, Colter Wall, Complicated Animals, Conor Oberst, Cooder, Skaggs, White Cordovas, Corey Harris & the 5X5 Band, CW Stoneking, Cyrus Chesnut, Dale Watson, Damon Fowler, Dan Hicks & the Acoustic Warriors, Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks, Daniel Romano & His Band, Dan Zanes, Dan Zanes & Friends, Danielle Howle Band, Daphne Willis, Dar Williams, Daryl Hance (Mofro), Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore with The Guilty Ones, Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men, Dave Rawlings Machine, Dave Van Ronk, David Wax Museum, Dawes, Deer Tick, Del McCoury, Del McCoury Band, Delbert McClinton, Della Mae, Dehd, Dent May, Diane Schuur, Dick Dale, Dirt Bike, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dispatch, DL Is OK, Dr. John, Dr. John & The Nite Trippers, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Drive-By Truckers, Duquette Johnson, Dwight Yoakam, Dylan LeBlanc, Eddy Cotton, Eilen Jewell, Elizabeth Cook, Elizabeth Mitchell With You Are My Flower, Elvis Costello, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Emmylou Harris, Eric Riehm Trio, Eugene Chadbourne, Field Report, Flagship Romance, Flow Tribe, Folk Is People, Frankie & the Witch Fingers, Freedy Johnston, Futurebirds, Gaelynn Lea, Gary Starling, Gene Watson, George Porter & Runnin’ Pardners, George Winston, Ghost Wolves, Glen Hansard, Goliath, Grace and Tony, Graham Nash, Grant Peeples, Great Peacock, Gregory Porter, Griffin House, Guitar Sheorty, Gurf Morlix, Hayes Carll, Hard Working Americans, Heartless Bastards, Henry Wagons, Heritage Blues Orchestra, Hiss Golden Messenger, Honey Miller, HoneyHoney, Horse Feathers, Houndmouth, Illiterate Light, Indigo Girls, Iris DeMent, Israel Nash, Izzy Heltai, Jaime Wyatt, Jake Shimabukuro, James Elkington, James McMurtry & His Band, Jamestown Revival, JD McPherson, Jeff Tweedy, Jeffrey Martin, Jeffrey Steele, Jenny Lewis, Jesse Malin, Jim Lauderdale & His Band, Jim McKaba’s After Hours Band, Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Jimmy Cliff, Jimmy Goodreau-Moondi Klein, Joe Pernice, Joe Pug, John Carver Band, John Hiatt, John Moreland, John Murphy, John Paul White, John Waters, John Wesley Harding, Johnny Clegg Band, Jonathan Edwards, Jontavious Willis, Joseph, Josh Ritter, Judah & the Lion, Junior Brown, Justin Townes Earle, Juston Stens, Kairos Creature Club, Kasey Chambers, Kelsey Waldon, Kenneth Brian Band, Kevin Morby, Kimya Dawson, Kim Richey, Kristina Train, Kristopher James, Kristy Lee, Lake Street Dive, Laney Jones, Laney Jones & the Spirits, Larkin Poe, Larry Campbell-Teresa Williams, Larry Magnum, Las Nubes, Laura Jane Grace, Leagues, Lee Ann Womack, Leo Kottke, Leon Redbone, Lera Lynn, Link Wray, Liz & Garf, Liza Anne, Liz Longley, Los Colognes, Los Lobos, Lost in the Trees, Loudon Wainwright, Lucero, Lucette, Lucinda Williams, Lucky Peterson, Lucky Tubb, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Luna Luna, M. Ward, Madi Carr, Maggie Koerner, Maggie Rose, Magic Giant, Mandolin Orange, Marc Broussard, Marc Cohn Trio, Marcia Ball and Her Band, Mark Erelli, Marshall Crenshaw, Marshall Crenshaw & the Bottle Rockets, Martin Sexton, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Mary Flower, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Mavis Staples, Melissa Ferrick, Merle Haggard, Mike Cooley, Mike Stern, Molly Tuttle, Mondo Mike & the Po Boys, Mose Allison, Mount Moriah, Nahko & Medicine for The People, Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Neko Case, Nellie McKay, New Breed Brass Band, Nicholas Payton, Nicki Bluhm, Nick Perri & the Underground Thieves, Nikki Lane, Noah Gundersen, Noel Haggard, Nora Jane Struthers, North Mississiippi All-Stars, NRBQ, of Montreal, Ohmme, Old 97’s, Old Crow Medicine Show, Otis Clay, Over The Rhine, Parker Gispert, Parker Millsap, Parker Urban Band, Parquet Courts, Pat Puckett Trio, Patterson Hood, Pearl & The Oysters, Pete Donnelly, Peter Case, Phil Cook, Phoebe Bridgers, Pierce Pettis, Pieta Brown, Poncho Sanchez, Poolboi, Portastatic, Purling Hiss, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Randall Bramblett Band, Randy Newman, Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Trio, Raul Malo, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Raye Zaragoza, Rayland Baxter, Rebirth Brass Band, Reckless Kelly, Red Wanting Blue, Reid Paley, Reverend Horton Heat, Reverend Billy C. Wirtz, Richard Thompson, Rickie Lee Jones, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Rion Paige, RiverTown Band, Robert Earl Keen, Robert Klein, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Robyn Hitchcock, Rodney Crowell, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Roger McGuinn, Rorey Carroll, Rosanne Cash, Rosie Ledet, Roy Clark, Ruthie Foster, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Sam Rodriguez, Sarah Borges, Sarah Borges and Broken Singles, Sarah Jarosz, Savoy Motel, Scott Giddens Trio, Sean Rowe, Seratones, Seth Myers, Seth Walker, Shakey Graves, Shane Myers, Shannon Ogden, Shawn Colvin, Shawn Mullins, Sheer Mag, Shooter Jennings, Shovels & Rope, Skyview, Sleepy LaBeef, Soccer Mommy, Son Volt, Sonny Landreth, Honey Miller, Southern Avenue, Speedy Ortiz, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart, Stanley Jordan, Steep Canyon Rangers, Steve Earle, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Steve Forbert, Strand of Oaks, Sturgill Simpson, Sugar & the Hi-Lows, Sun Ra Arkestra, Surfer Blood, Swamp Cabbage, Swear and Shake, Sweet Crude, Syl Johnson, Taj Mahal, Taj Mahal & His Trio Band, Tall Tall Trees, Tammerlin, Tank & The Bangas Terry Adams, The’s, The 77d’s, The Autumn Defense, The B-52’s, The Baseball Project, The Belle Game, The Black Lillies, The Blasters, The Both – Aimee Mann/Ted Leo, The Breeders, The Brothers Comatose, The California Honeydrops, The Commonheart, The Connells, The Count Basie Orchestra, The Dandy Warhols, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Disco Biscuits, The Earls of Leicester, The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson, The Felice Brothers, The Head and the Heart, The Howlin Brothers, The Iguanas, The James Hunter Six, The Kopecky Family Band, The Lone Bellow, The Magpie Salute, The Malpass Brothers, The Mastersons, The Mavericks, The Milk Carton Kids, The Moonlighters, The Morningsiders, The Mountain Goats, The Oh Hellos, The Paul Thorn Band, The Pauses, The Record Company, The Rubies, The Sleepy Connection with Rickey Calloway, The Suitcase Junket, The Taj Mahal Trio, The Weepies, Those Darlins, Tibetan Monks, Todd Snider, Tom Rush Tommy Castro, Tommy Womack, Tonstartssbandht, Tony Joe White, Travelin’ McCourys, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Twang Bang, Two Guitars, TxLips, Tyrone Wells, Uncle Floyd, Valley Maker, Van Dyke Parks, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Walter Parks, Walter Parks-Lee Hunter, Waylon Payne, Webb Wilder, Whetherman, Wilco, William Tyler (Lambchop), Willow Wacks, Willy Tea Taylor, Wolf Parade, Yo La Tengo, Yonder Mountain String Band, Zach Bryan.

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