Purcell, Oklahoma may not be an obvious hotbed of hipness, but these small Oklahoma towns can surprise you. Talent runs deep in the heart of the Sooner State. Maybe it’s the red dirt, or perhaps those winds sweeping down the plains. Whatever the reason, our fair state and some of its smallest towns have produced a number of seriously gifted songwriters. Case in point, Okemah, OK. With a population of a whopping 3,300, this town is the birthplace of folk hero Woody Guthrie. Award winning songsmith Jimmy Webb, who gave us “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston” and countless other timeless tunes, hails from the thriving metropolis of Elk City (pop. 12,000), and Bearden (pop. 130) produced 2013 Grammy nominee John Fullbright. It’s Purcell’s turn to shine now with 21-year-old songwriter Parker Millsap.
Millsap released his first CD, Palisade, in 2012. A DIY project, the young musician hawked his musical wares from the back of his van. With Millsap and his fans grassroots efforts, Palisade met with well-deserved critical success. Fast forward to February 2014 and we find Millsap preparing to release his sophomore effort, the self-titled Parker Millsap. This time, however, Millsap has an agent, a publicist and a label. The new CD, like Palisade, showcases Millsap’s strength as both a lyricist and a vocalist. If you’re in the Tulsa area, you can join Millsap for a CD release party at The Vanguard on Feb. 16. Yet another talented Okie, John Moreland, is also on the bill.
I recently caught up by phone with young Mr. Millsap, who was in New York City, showcasing his music during an international industry conference. “I didn’t really expect to like New York, but I am a big fan,” Millsap told me while dining on yogurt in a Midtown Manhattan hotel. “I came here on a high school band trip, but we basically stared at everybody from a bus window. We were supervised the whole time. I’ve been unsupervised for like four or five days now,” he laughed. “I’ve been seeing how far I can get from the hotel without being lost.”
A lot has changed for Millsap since I last spoke with him. He’s gone from playing small clubs and bars in Oklahoma to opening for Old Crow Medicine Show at a sold-out New Year’s Eve Show in Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium. “I just feel really lucky. Like very, very fortunate. Like being in the right place at the right time multiple times,” he commented.
The evening at the Ryman was an amazing ending to a great year for Millsap. “That was surreal,” he said of playing the former home of the Grand Ole Opry. “It was the kind of thing that most people don’t get to do and it was surreal. Everybody was really great to us, and the crowd was wonderful.”
Millsap is looking forward to returning to the road in support of his new album. “I love being on the road. I honestly love performing, so any time I get to do that is a blessing. I like meeting all kinds of new people and trying new food everywhere…This is the only thing I’ve really ever wanted to do.”
For more information on Parker Millsap and upcoming tour dates, visit his website.
*Parker Millsap photo Credit Samantha Lamb
-With permission from The Pulse Magazine