Photo and Story by Rick Hiduk
Members of Mixed Emotions, (from left) George Sheffer Jr., Roger Miller Jr., Roger Miller Sr., and drummer Denny Nichols fully satisfied a standing-room-only crowd at the Highway Inn in Washington Township on Saturday night.
A drastic change in the weather couldn’t stop area residents from getting out for one more normal weekend night before the holiday stretch begins, and the band Mixed Emotions made the evening a celebration nonetheless.
The four-piece all-male ensemble features guitarist and lead singer Roger Miller Jr., accompanied on guitar by his father, Roger Sr. and George Sheffer Jr. Percussionist Denny Nichols rounds out the Tunkhannock-based group.
At first glance, the band’s mish-mosh of attire that was a little bit hippie, a little bit country, and a little bit rock and roll seemed to fit their opening repertoire of southern rock, classic country hits, and some rock and roll oldies.
But, as the group moved from set to set, each song, drawing on a slightly different genre, was its own pleasant surprise, and the crowd loved it. Bar patrons, numbering more about 65 at their peak, were drawn to the dance floor by renditions of standards like “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Driving My Life Away,” “Move It On Over,” “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” and the Eagles’ “Already Gone.”
But the band also pulled some fun oldies out of their hats, like “Rock Around the Clock” and “Johnny Be Good,” as well as well-received ballads, like Jeff Healey’s “Angel Eyes” and Bruce Springsteen’s “My Hometown.”
The instrumentals were sharp, and three guitars create a kind of grinding rhythm that makes sitting still impossible. The vocals were somewhat murky however and, despite pleasing father/son harmonies, lyrics were often not discernible.
Despite the large crowd, which pretty much maxed out the space without making it uncomfortable, there was only one bartender on duty. Angie ran her ass off, however, and patrons were generally patient and good-natured about waiting for their drinks. She did get some assistance after the crowd had peaked.
The bar was adequately warm, and the heater fans kept the air from getting stagnant. The evidence is in the flash photos however that the room was generally smokey. The front door and a few windows were flung up a couple times to alleviate the smoke, but throwing expensive heat out into the surrounding woods doesn’t seem a practical solution – a tricky dilemma often faced by the few bars left in the area where smoking is still permitted.
The Highway Inn has evolved quite a bit in the past few years. Those who haven’t been there for a while should stop in to see the changes made in seating and overall appearance. More changes are on tap for winter, with improvements to the men’s room recently completed and an upgrade to the women’s room in the works. The crowd is as friendly as ever.