Saturday, July 29th • 6:30pm • Main Stage
At only 23 years of age, Oklahoma native Parker Millsap is quickly making a name for himself with his captivating live performances, soulful sound, and character-driven narratives. He recently wrapped up a banner year in 2016, which included his network television debut on CONAN, an invitation to play with Elton John at the Apple Music Festival, an Austin City Limits taping and an Americana Music Association nomination for Album of the Year. Parker’s most recent release, The Very Last Day, has received praise from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, LA Times, Austin Chronicle and Rolling Stone to name a few.
Parker grew up in the tiny town of Purcell, OK (pop. 5,952) where he attended a Pentecostal church with his family three times a week for most of his youth. Though Parker doesn’t consider himself very religious these days, the experiences engraved upon him inform his songwriting. Blending that fire and brimstone preaching with rock, country, blues and Waits-ian imagery, he has created a sound uniquely his own.
Parker first picked up an acoustic guitar at nine, then plugged in and went electric after getting into Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, eventually starting a cover band, Fever in Blue, with classmate Michael Rose who still plays bass with him today. After graduating high school, he moved to Northern California, where he interned at Prairie Sun Recording, the studio where Tom Waits recorded Bone Machine and Mule Variations. Returning to Oklahoma, he put down the electric guitar and got into songwriting, releasing an indie album in 2012, Palisade, which he sold from the back of his van.
A trip to Nashville found Parker playing at the Tin Pan South songwriter’s festival, where his performance impressed Old Crow Medicine Show’s manager so much that he invited Parker to open a string of dates for the band, later leading to a slot on their New Year’s Eve gig at the Ryman Auditorium. Parker has also opened dates for Jason Isbell, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lake Street Dive, Lucinda Williams and Shovels & Rope.
“I like to set goals for myself that are impossible to reach,” he explains. “That way, I always have something to aim for, a better song, different characters, new stories. I just want to pay the bills and feed my dog, and maybe buy a new guitar every now and then. That’s all I need. I don’t want to be Elvis Presley, but I wouldn’t complain if a million girls screamed for me, either. Just don’t tell my girlfriend that.” Parker Millsap is ready to share his Oklahoma roots with the rest of the country, and, hopefully, the world.
“I wasn’t prepared for the wild, vast power of his voice and his remarkable charisma. This guy can yodel, he can sing a soul song for real, he can preach and he wiggles his leg like Elvis. A star in the making.”
– ANN POWERS, NPR
“Notably smart, sometimes acerbic, this charismatic new performer… rivets audiences with intense but smooth vocal whoops, cascades and pauses; emotional, blues-based slide guitar with punctuating harmonica; and a sharp, compact band. If he’s doing all this at 21, what will he sound like at 30?”
“His voice has the depth of some of the best blues musicians with a gravelly range that forces you to pay attention, if not to just wonder how the slender, fresh-faced Millsap is doing what you’re watching. He’s got the boyish charms and the wild and dirty sound that comes from a life of hard living. It’s absolutely astounding.”
“Last night in Atlanta I saw one of the best concerts I have ever seen…It restored my faith in music.”
-SIR ELTON JOHN
Official website: parkermillsap.com/