Purcell, OK singer songwriter Parker Millsap turned twenty in February. Another year and he’ll be able to slide onto a barstool and order a beer in the same venues he’s been playing for a while now. Barely out the door of Purcell High, Millsap released Palisade last April. Featuring Millsap’s songwriting, guitar and gritty vocals with the substantial support of his buddy Michael Rose on bass, it’s an excellent album by any measure and an impressive debut effort.  

The new year finds Millsap and Rose back in the studio in Norman, working on a follow up. The duo is now a trio with the welcome addition of talented fiddler Daniel Foulks. While Palisade was a stripped down, acoustic affair, this sophomore album will include a few more instruments, Millsap told me in a recent interview. For starters, there’ll be drums, courtesy of Millsap and Giovanni Carnuccio III (from John Fullbright’s band). “On one song, there’s a little banjo, some lap steel. I think a little bit of electric guitar, harmonica...we brought in some horns. Yeah, it will have all kinds of sounds,” Millsap laughed. Listen closely and you might even hear a toy piano. “For real; get ready,” Millsap warned.

The Villain is the album’s working title, taken from a song on the recording. “A lot of the time, you’ll name the album like the lead single...this (song) is probably the least like single material, but I just like the title,” Millsap explained. Millsap’s songwriting continues to reflect the musical influences of his father’s record collection (musicians like Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Ry Cooder and John Lee Hooker), his own appreciation for the music of Tom Waits, and his church upbringing (the new record includes a song called “Truck Stop Gospel”, complete with tambourine).  However, this album will be different from Palisade. “It will have more songs on it; hopefully, it will sound better, “ Millsap joked. “The goal is to always write better songs.” He’s taking a slightly different approach to his songwriting this time around. “I don’t want to say they’re more like pop songs, but they’re more like pop songs. They’re more ‘sing along-able’, I guess, some of them. There are still some songwriter type songs on there, but there are also some songs that are just catchy, but hopefully still good."

“A lot of my favorite songs are the kinds of songs that get stuck in my head, so I guess I started writing those kinds of songs,” he continued. “It wasn’t a conscious decision. It wasn’t like ‘I’m going to write songs that are more accessible.’ They just happen to be more accessible. By ‘pop’, I just mean better hooks...a little more prone to getting stuck in people’s heads.”

Millsap opened for Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights at the Cain’s Ballroom in February, a gig he really enjoyed. Playing the Cain’s was “something that me and Mike (Rose) have been talking about since high school,” Millsap commented. In 2013, Millsap hopes to do more regional and national touring. He’d also like to find a label home for the new record. “Getting this record released by a label would be really cool,” he said. “That would take a lot of pressure off of me. I wouldn’t have to be the label and the songwriter and the touring musician and all of it. That would be nice.” 

For now, Millsap has no plans to move away from Purcell. “That’s one thing I think is unique about Oklahoma musicians. They don’t plan on leaving,” he remarked. “We can tour from anywhere. It’s having a place to come back to that seems important to a lot of Oklahoma musicians. (John) Fullbright still lives in Bearden, right outside of Okemah. It’s like a suburb of Okemah, if there’s even a suburb...I think we like small towns. Maybe we’re just scared of the big city.” He reconsidered and laughed. “Yeah, or maybe, for me, it’s like there are places that I like to go to eat and I don’t want to not be able to eat at those places. It’s like I’ve lived in the same house for 17 years and the 2 years before that we were in a house that was less than a mile away.”

Or, maybe it’s the friendship and support of fellow Oklahoma musicians like Fullbright and Samantha Crain. “They’re all extremely supportive...There’s not a whole lot of competition here. It didn’t go through anybody’s head ‘Oh, dang it, Fullbright got nominated for a Grammy, not me.’ It was like the other way. ‘Oh, all right! Somebody’s finally noticing!” 

-With thanks to Currentland

Views: 2096

Tags: Daniel Foulks, John Fullbright, Julie Wenger Watson, Mike Rose, Oklahoma Musicians, Parker Millsap, Samantha Crain

Comment by Rick Reiley on February 21, 2013 at 2:19pm

Parker and Michael are gems. I've heard the music grow from something to really bend an ear to, to something to sit back and absorb. I'm anxious to hear the new project and I wish them well. It's so nice to see clear headed, energetic  talent. I see elsewhere that he's got 7 showcases at the Folk Alliance conference in Toronto. I'm looking forward to hearing the echoes of those performances as they reverbrate beyond our Oklahoma boundaries.

Comment by Julie Wenger Watson on February 22, 2013 at 4:22am

Thanks for taking the time to read the post, Rick. I really like Palisade, and I am also anxious to hear that new one. 

Comment by Tim Millsap on February 22, 2013 at 7:43am

Hey Julie, Nice article!

Thanks for giving some nice "Pub" to my boy.

Glad you like the "Palisade " album. You're gonna love the new one.

It's really nice to see JP get such great praise from a respectable organization such as "ND".

Thanks Again !!!

Comment by Julie Wenger Watson on February 22, 2013 at 8:32am

Parker's dad?? :-) Thanks! It was my pleasure! Awesome album collection, by the way! Bob French, a friend of mine from Norman, who is a great musician himself, recommended I take a listen to "this kid from Purcell" a while back. I'm glad he did! I think Terry Ware may have told Bob about Parker... Love that Oklahoma grapevine. Some of my favorite music comes to me that way.

Comment by Tim Millsap on February 22, 2013 at 9:13am

Yep I'm the Dad with the good record collection.

JP took lessons from Terry "Buffalo" Ware for a while as well as Norman mainstay , Travis Linville.

The pic is from Buffalo's 50th Birthday show, I think JP was about 16 years old then.

Great memories and Terry & Travis are such great guy's!! We could not ask for better mentor's !

It's really nice to have SOLID influences.

Comment by Julie Wenger Watson on February 22, 2013 at 9:34am

Great Pic! I love it! Travis Linville is definitely another fabulous Oklahoma musician! Thanks, Tim! 

Comment by Mitchell (Bo) Parker on February 22, 2013 at 11:15am

Julie, thanks for posting this. I was not hip to Parker Milsap - I am now - AND... I "D"ig this kid... his writing, his singing... his band's delivery "style". I'm thinkkkkkin that makes me a "fan"... thanks to you. Keep Smilin ...Da BoMon

Comment by Kevin Morgan Watson on February 22, 2013 at 11:24am

Great article. Glad to discover a new singer/songwriter who is wise beyond his years and a real talent. From the video I picked up hints of Kevin Welch, another s/s from OK. Now I have to go buy "Palisades." The entire CD, thank you.

Comment by Julie Wenger Watson on February 22, 2013 at 12:55pm

Thanks for reading, Bo and Kevin. I am so glad you like the music. Kevin - I was JUST listening to "Jersey Devil" this afternoon! I really like Kevin Welch's music, and I especially like the music he plays with Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin! 

Comment by Scott Meredith Aycock on February 23, 2013 at 10:37am

Nice article/interview of up and coming singer/songwriter, Parker Millsap.  I enjoyed his first CD, and he's a great live performer.  Looking forward to the next CD.  Parker is a welcome addition to our roster of great Oklahoma artists we frequently feature on our radio program, Folk Salad- Certified Organic Music. 

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.