Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band
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Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band

Corona, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Corona, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Americana




"CORONA: Black Bear and Cheyenne Autumn Band plays Racks"

Black Bear and the Cheyenne Autumn Band wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the classroom.

Jonny Miller, a.k.a. Black Bear, recorded the project’s first album, “Trans-Mountaineer” solo after taking commercial music classes at Riverside City College.

He had no band. He didn’t know if he would ever play the songs live, either.

But, Miller had songs and ideas swirling around.

“I need to get them out of my head,” he said.

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Growing up in Corona, Miller started playing the guitar at age 13 and started playing music at local churches. By the time he was in high school, he joined marching band and jazz band and the members would start up their own ska and punk bands.

That turned into hardcore shows, with seeing bands at the now-defunct Showcase Theatre in Corona and playing there, too.

These days, Black Bear and the Cheyenne Autumn Band are about as far as you can get across the spectrum from hardcore—the group plays more of a Southern California sun-soaked folk rock. They will be at Racks Billiards and Bourbon in Corona on Friday, May 24 and at Back to the Grind in Riverside on Sunday, May 26. The latter date is part of Saturation Fest.

Among Miller’s influences are 1960s folk, Death Cab for Cutie, Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes.

He got into them because his sister, Dani, and now-wife, Geneva, were always making mix CDs they listened to in the car. - The Press Enterprise

"Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band – Native Ground"

Some bands feel like they are a head of their time. Whether it be their electronic futuristic sound, to their choice of clothing you just have a feeling they are light years ahead of their peers. Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band are probably the exact opposite. When you listen to this folk/Americana band, it doesn’t feel like you are listening to a band who is creating music in the year 2013. Their love for music from the 1800’s is infused in their sound so solidly it feels like they have encompassed the feeling of being alive in that time completely. As a result, their sound is quite organic and pure as honey straight from the honey combs, and will leave you thinking about going out west in search of gold.

Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band are also a family affair. Lead singer “Black Bear” Johnny Miller and Dani “Blue Fox” Miller (lead guitar, vocals) are brother and sister. If that weren’t enough, Johnny Miller and Geneva “Black Rabbit” (piano, vocals) Miller are married. The couple has been playing music together since they started dating back in the spring of 2007. It would appear this band’s fate was written in the stars. After frequent trips to a local thrift store, and talking it up with one of the employees there, they recruited Mike “White Owl” Wilson on drums and percussion. The band was almost complete. A little more searching and Derrick “Black Buffalo” Harvey was brought to them, and with his talents on bass, the final piece to the puzzle was found.

Native Ground is their five-song EP that is very earthly. As if Mother Nature hand-picked these songs and asked them to play for her, Native Ground covers topics that range from man ruining the lands to other social topics that were relevant back in the 1800’s (and to be frank, are still quite relevant today).

I wish I could see the land that he made with His own hands
I wish I could see the land before it was changed by man

The passage above is taken from the EP’s title track, “Native Ground.” Each song has its own special meaning that is accompanied by the perfect music that feels other worldly. Rather than focusing on the catchiness of the melodies, Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band creates music with a message. -

"Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band"


Black Bear (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica); Geneva Miller (piano, vocals); Dani Miller (lead guitar, vocals); Mike Wilson (drums, percussion).




“We are inspired by 1800s music including frontier music, hymns and negro spirituals, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, folk and folk-rock of the 1960s and 1970s (including Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Young, Jackson Browne and The Byrds) and ’90s alternative bands (like Green Day, Oasis and The Wallflowers). Our most contemporary influences are Indie bands like Dawes, Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, Death Cab For Cutie and Iron and Wine as well as some lesser known artists like Mariee Sioux and Alela Dianne. We are all heavily influenced by a profound love of nature and my song lyrics are inspired by Greek philosophy, transcendentalism and the prophets of the Old Testament,” explains Black Bear.


Trans-Mountaineer, Self-released (2012).


It’s time to unlock Corona’s true potential. There are few spots in the IE that have a folk music culture but the Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band (BBCAB) has a humble desire to unleash a satiating rain of folk music upon a desert of metal and rock bands.

The band’s name is a hybrid of interest through Black Bear, the band’s lead vocalist and harmonica player. First add tribute to the Black Bear (the animal), which once inhabited Corona’s countryside followed by a commendation to an old John Ford western called Cheyenne Autumn. Together the name truly epitomizes what folk music should sound like and, to be honest, nobody but Black Bear can describe the band’s working harmony. Passion shines through, my friends.

“We do not use half-stacks and pedal boards; we are very raw and minimalistic. In fact, we do not even have a bass player,” says Black Bear. “Instead, Geneva plays all the bass lines with her left hand on the piano and with the right she adds a subtle ambiance. Dani extends that ambiance with reverberant arpeggios on the electric guitar. Mike is a beast on drums, brilliantly balancing simplicity in some songs with catchy complex rhythms in others. I keep a steady rhythm on my acoustic. The lead vocal is the most outstanding part of our sound and the girls’ harmonies perfectly accompany the lead vocal melody in every chorus. Instrumentally, our sound is purposefully simple so that the vocals become the main focal point. I fill the instrumental sections of each song with a lonely harmonica, adding just the right amount of frontier/folk-ness to our songs.”

Corona has very few musical venues and Black Bear admits that between local churches, Marquee 15 and the Dos Lagos Amphitheater, the city doesn’t quite have the venues to support local folk and indie groups. While many bands lament the loss of the Showcase Theatre, BBCAB seeks out venues like Back to the Grind or Joey’s Barbecue to spread their love. “Our target audience is anyone with a lonesome and broken heart, anyone with a soul and a passion that feels like they have been pressed down and anyone seeking to escape the chaos of life with the chill vibrations of acoustic music,” says Black Bear. (Ashley Bennett)

Black Bear & The Cheyenne Autumn Band with With Range of Light at Back to the Grind, 3575 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 784-0800; Fri, June 15. 8pm. Free. -


Still working on that hot first release.



Clouds form in an endless sky I try to wrap my mind around, in a time
when raindrops fell upon the naked, native ground, If we could only see
what Corona looked like; if only we could travel back in time, far
before the copious cookie cutter houses, and prior to the plentiful
groves of lemons and oranges; this place was but a desert. Black bears
roamed this wilderness, and other wild desert creatures,
and even tribes of injuns. But when rich investors and wealthy white
land owners decided to exploit this territory, they hired the injuns to
kill all the black bears; hoping that families would not be afraid to
start a community here. Of course, it did not take much time for the
rich white men from the East to kill all the Indians too. They placed
the surviving children in schools to Americanize them, and all the black
bears vanished from this land; all except for one.

As if it
was written in their blood or fated in their family genome, siblings
Dani and Jonny (Black Bear) Miller have played folk music together for
years. Geneva Miller is the wife of Black Bear, and they have been
writing music together since they first started dating in the Spring of
2007. Obsessed with thrift store shopping, and the pursuit of vintage
treasures; the Black Bear family met Mike Wilson a few summers ago,
while browsing at Salvation Army. He is a manager at the Corona
Salvation Army, and he caught Black Bears eye one day because
ironically, he was the only employee there with a unique vintage style.
He was always very friendly, and after a few encounters; they started
talking music, Black Bear discovered Mike played drums, and suddenly; he
realized they were just destined to jam together, and so, The Cheyenne
Autumn Band was formed. After copious shows without a bass player, the
band came to the realization that their live was like a bearded man in
Snowy Winter, with a beanie and knitted sweater, but no pants. After
putting up several online postings stating Bass Player Needed, and
getting no reply; Black Bear finally decided to search Craigslist where
he found the immensely talented Derrick Harvey. Derrick, who happened to
be searching for a band to jam with, brought his groovy funk skills to
the band, and warmed us right up.

The Cheyenne Autumn band is inspired by 1800s music including frontier
music, hymns and negro spirituals, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, folk
and folk-rock of the 1960s and 1970s (including Bob Dylan, Creedence,
Neil Young, Jackson Browne and The Byrds), and 90s alternative bands
(like Green Day, Oasis and The Wallflowers). Their most contemporary
influences are Indie bands like Dawes, Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes, Rilo
Kiley, Death Cab For Cutie, and Iron and Wine, as well as some lesser
known artists like Mariee Sioux and Alela Dianne. They are all heavily
influenced by a profound love of nature, and Black Bears lyrics are
inspired by philosophy and Transcendentalism.

Band Members