Telluride Bluegrass: Parker Millsap, Next Elvis?

A few single-day tickets for Thursday and Sunday for the 44th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival are still available here or call  800-624-2422.

Parker Millsap is performing on the Main Stage of Telluride Bluegrass on Sunday, 2 – 3:15 p.m. His NightGrass show at Fly Me To The Moon is sold out.

Please scroll down to listen to Parker’s podcast.

Parker Millsap, next Elvis?

Can’t judge this book by its cover.

Although the jury’s in and a happy ending to his story seems preordained.

Parker Millsap is a slightly built, 24-year-old from Purcell, Oklahoma –  “kind of behind culturally, in a lot of ways,”  he told NPR – but the slender, fresh-faced singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist can sing of sin and salvation in big, bold whoops or a raspy howl that could raise the roof on a juke joint or likewise, a hallelujah tent.

Like Tom Waits, Parker’s simple, character-driven storytelling is haunting, powerful, and theatrical.

Doing soul, blues, country or folk, the boy can yodel, preach, and wiggle his hips like, well, “The King (of Rock ’n Roll), Elvis.

“Sounds like Saturday-night hellbender spirits meet Sunday-morning evangelical fervor, as sung by a young man who spends his days riding the rails,” wrote Rolling Stone.

“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…,”  said The Wall Street Journal.

“Last night in Atlanta I saw one of the best concerts I have ever seen…It restored my faith in music…,” Sir Elton John.

“He’s going to be a star. He’s like a young Elvis…,” raved Brian Eyster of Planet Bluegrass.

Parker Millsap 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, Parker 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 out of 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, Shovels & Rope, Patti Griffin, and Sarah Jarosz, who, like Parker Millsap, is scheduled to appear (again) this year in Telluride.

Parker’s Telluride Bluegrass gig is Sunday, June 18, 2 – 3:15 p.m.

Parker Millsap with with childhood friend Michael Rose (bass) and Daniel Foulks (fiddle).

“I like to set goals for myself that are impossible to reach,” Parker 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. His latest release, his third studio album, The Very Last Day, was one of the top roots releases of 2016.

“On The Very Last Day Parker Millsap pours intensity into his songs, regardless of whether he’s rocking out with his band, quietly accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, or playing the blues as slow as molasses. Stylistically, Millsap embraces the same sort of anything goes Americana as genre stalwarts like Jason Isbell or the Lone Bellow. The Very Last Day features strong songwriting, insightful lyrics, and successful dabbling in several different musical styles. But his intensity may be the quality that sets him apart,” wrote Pop Matters.

To learn more, click the play button and listen to Parker Millsap’s podcast.

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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.
Susan Viebrock

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