TWIN LAKES, WI - JULY 21: Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown performs at Country Thunder music festival - Day 1 on July 21, 2011 in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
His country music band, Sawyer Brown, has produced 51 top-100 hits so lead singer Mark Miller of Dayton knows how to bring a crowd to its feet.
And though Sawyer Brown will have Kentucky Speedway rocking with a pre-race concert on the front stretch Saturday, Miller knows – even with No. 1 hits like Step That Step, Some Girls Do and Thank God for You – it’ll be tough to match the thunder created when NASCAR drops the green flag on the Quaker State 400 about 90 minutes later.
“The very first lap of a NASCAR race is pretty incredible,” Miller said. “When they’re all lined up and the power and the sound. If you’re not a fan and you go to an event you’ll become a fan on that first lap. It’s like the earth is crumbling with that sound.”
Miller attended Jefferson Twp. Elementary school and Trotwood-Madison Junior High before his family moved to Florida. Sawyer Brown formed in 1981 and the group has since played a number of sporting events from Super Bowl promotional events, Final Fours and NASCAR races.
As for NASCAR, the band has performed at Phoenix International Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, among other tracks. Miller – who said his favorite drivers are now-retired Jeff Gordon and soon-to-be retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. – said Sawyer Brown has no plans on slowing down anytime soon, especially performing in front of crowds like at LVMS.
“Just when you’re singing the anthem there’s 200,000 people. The first one we did was in Vegas and we had to be helicoptered in,” Miller said. “It’s just wild to see how big of a deal those events are. We’ve done Super Bowls, thrown out first pitches and we’ve been to Final Fours. But we’ve never been to anything of the magnitude of a NASCAR race. We had no idea. It was a pretty incredible experience for us.
“Those kind of events are very festive anyway. People are in great moods and excited. The crowds were fantastic there. It’s a great venue.”
Among the fans in the crowd Saturday will be some of Miller’s family who live in the Miamisburg and Springboro areas. His daughter will also be there, filming her TV show Chasing Down Madison Brown. The travel show airs on RFD-TV, which is dedicated to the rural lifestyle.
“I’ll have a lot of family that will come down. It’s pretty special to get to play that close to home,” Miller said. “I always get a little more nervous when the family is there because I want to do good in front of them.”
Miller said he makes it back to Dayton about once a year and satisfies his cravings for two of Dayton’s classics: “I miss Mikesell’s potato chips and Cassano’s pizza.”
As for the pre-race concert, what can fans expect to hear Saturday?
“We love our fans. Our fans love to hear our hits so we play our hits,” Miller said. “If you’re a Sawyer Brown fan you’ll hear a couple hours of songs you know every word to. We’re not going to get up there and throw different stuff at you. We’ve been blessed to have 51 chart records. We’re going to fire off hit after hit. That’s what the fans want and that’s what we do.
“We can’t wait to play for lots of fans in Ohio and Kentucky. We’re excited about it.”