PARKER MILLSAP

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PARKER MILLSAP – Oklahoma singer/songwriter wants to surprise you – and he does!

By Heide Brandes

Parker Millsap likes to surprise you.

For one, he’s young, and looks younger than his 20 years. On the other hand, however, he’s already been compared to such singer/songwriters as Tom Waits and Bob Dylan. He writes like a poet, and he can talk books, work, girls, travel and current events with anyone.

At 20 years old, this young Oklahoma singer/songwriter is already making waves. Along with 21-year-old bassist Michael Rose and fiddler Dan Faulks, the Oklahoma natives are traveling the country, writing songs, loving the blues and performing for a growing set of fans everywhere.

In fact, the duo’s new CD is set to record in February, following up on the success of Millsap’s first CD, Palisade, which blends folksy blues with rock and roll in a sound that’s truly unique and catchy. Don’t think that the shows are quiet little folk rock though. Again, Parker wants to surprise you.

“I call it dynamic rock and roll with acoustic instruments,” Millsap says. “It’s really easy for us to get quiet, because of the acoustic instruments, but then we get really big and loud. When we do live performances, they bill us as a songwriter group. They don’t expect what we give them.”

What Millsap, Rose and Faulks give is a unique sound that blends old blues with the spice of Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovitt, Tom Waits and Mississippi John Hurt. A featured artist at Norman’s The Deli every Tuesday night, the band is out to perform, entertain, and above all else, tell a story through music.

Millsap was born in Purcell where he was raised singing and dancing in the charismatic Pentecostal faith. He began singing at church at age 5 during praise and worship services, and by age nine, he had a guitar in his hands at church as well.

“I wasn’t very good, but it was the Pentecostal church, so everyone sang. I quit for a while though, and picked up the guitar again from about age 9 to 15,” Millsap says. He met Rose at school, and the two formed a cover band, performing rock and, of course, Jimi Hendrix tunes.

“When I’d write, it’s just me and a guitar. I bring it to my guitar player Mike, and it comes together,” he said. “My dad listened to singer/songwriters when I was growing up, and I just knew how to do it. I knew what made a good song. I started writing songs for the band; I enjoyed it.”

Like most other teenagers who pick up a guitar, Millsap said he decided to play music as his life’s work. When high school ended, he had to make the decision to go to college or not.

“When it came time to apply, I just never did,” he said. “My mom was okay with me following music, but my dad was worried. So we compromised. I would do an internship at a record studio in California.”

As an intern, Millsap learned to be comfortable in a recording studio and played instruments on three or four records produced there. He eventually moved back to Oklahoma in February 2012 and began working for his aunt. During that time, Millsap and Rose recorded their debut album, “Palisade,” featuring 11 original songs.

The duo and fiddle player Faulks began playing regularly at venues like The Deli and the Blue Note, and soon, they began getting other gigs. The band earned a booking agent, and traveled to venues ranging from The Zoo in Seattle, a 2,000-seat venue in Spokane, an RV park in Texas and listening rooms in Austin.

While some of Millsap’s songs hold the dark and broodiness of artists, most of his songs tell a story and are full of hope for the future. He channels a little of Tom Waits’ signature gravel voice, croons smoothly and has the storytelling gift of a writer. Now, Millsap and friends are preparing for a second album, due out in 2014.

“I want to write better songs and just be able to pay my bills,” he said. “We will probably tour heavily for a year or two, then do it all again. It’s a rock star life,” Millsap laughs. “We drive around in a minivan from gig to gig, come home, write and record and do it again.”

When home in Oklahoma, Millsap lives a quiet life. He fleshes out new songs and helps with his aunt’s business. He writes, performs and relaxes. But for the young man with the powerful bluesy voice, success is not something he takes for granted.

“I’m not saying I have any particular talent over anyone else, I’m just lucky,” he said. “I’m stubborn and determined.”

Catch Millsap, Rose and Faulks at the Deli in Norman every Tuesday night or visit www.parkermillsap.com

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