An interview with songwriter Parker Millsap

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

Views: 661

Tags: Julie Wenger Watson, Oklahoma, Parker Millsap

Comment by Jack Williams on January 17, 2014 at 5:11pm

Another great one from Oklahoma would be the Turnpike Troubadours, who I believe are from Okemah.  

I'm excited about this guy. 

Comment by Julie Wenger Watson on January 17, 2014 at 5:51pm

Thanks for reading, Jack! Love those Troubadours, too! 

Comment by norm tandberg on January 17, 2014 at 9:55pm

saw parker millsap opening for john fullbright this past year. what a double bill that was! nice to see parker also on his way up.if i was in tulsa i would be at the show with parker and john moreland,who had one of the best releases of 2013. look forward to parker's new release and will buy it as soon as it is released. his last one was great.

Comment by Julie Wenger Watson on January 18, 2014 at 7:50am

Hi, Norm - what a great show! Fullbright is so good, and I really like what I'm hearing from John Moreland, too. I am excited for all these Oklahoma artists. Thanks!

Comment by Ken Jones on January 21, 2014 at 3:45am
I have seen Parker half a dozen times and he just gets better and better.
Such great blues growl and falsetto, he's amazing.
Following Fulbright for four years and more than a score of super performances.
They are both great writers as well.
But my favorite Oklahoma performers have been a joy for 25 plus years - the Red
Dirt Rangers. I highly recommend recommend their release from last year - Lone Chimney.
And thanks to Greg Johnson who features these folks and many other great Oklahoma musicians live at the Blue Door.
Comment by Chuck Tyler on January 21, 2014 at 5:44am

Fullbright, Millsap, Moreland and of course the Red Dirt Rangers. Wow, what a line up!!!!! Did the Red Dirt Christmas show at the Cain's last month and the only one missing was Parker. Oklahoma and American music future is alive and oh so well.

Comment by Julie Wenger Watson on January 21, 2014 at 6:12am

Hi, Ken and Chuck - thanks for reading. I'm guessing you're both Okies… ; ) I missed the show at the Cain's, and I regret that! I'll bet that was super fun. I love the Cain's for just about any band. 

Comment by Tim Millsap on January 21, 2014 at 7:43am

Very Nice Julie, Once again you've put a smile on my face !

Comment by Julie Wenger Watson on January 21, 2014 at 9:01am

Hi, Parker's dad! You have raised such a cool kid. I really enjoyed talking to him, and the new album is so very good!

Comment by Donna Meier on January 21, 2014 at 8:11pm

Very nice post Julie. I haven't gotten to see Milsap yet but have been curious. After reading the article, I'm even more interested.  Hope to catch the Vanguard show.


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