19-year-old singer/songwriter Parker Millsap and 21-year-old bassist Michael Rose met while schoolmates in Purcell, where they bonded over a mutual love for the blues.
“It was like, ‘Oh, you know the 12 bar blues?’” said Michael. “’I know the 12 bar blues. Let's play!’"
The music of Cream, in particular, served as common ground for the two, who cite the influence of each of their fathers as pivotal in their musical direction.
“At the time, I thought it was just weird old music...” said Parker. “But, eventually I learned that's the good stuff.”
The duo’s new CD Palisade shows the two have truly studied their craft, melding their blues and roots influences into a richly textured, though sparse, sound that is very potent and all their own. This earnest and stark presentation, combined with Parker’s (seemingly) whiskey-soaked vocal delivery only adds merit to the songs on the album.
But for Parker, it all begins with the story.
“Telling stories is what any art form is about anyways,” he said. “I wouldn't want to do it if I wasn't saying something. The 'medium' kind of developed from the songs, [and] they needed just an acoustic guitar and upright bass to reach their full potential. They didn't need anything else... no more or less.”
Though the material spans a wide gamut of emotion and observation, there is something of a dark quality throughout Palisade – particularly in songs like “End of a Rope” and “Hope I Die” – to which Parker admits he’s “attracted to darkness.”
“Things that are a little bit grim seem to be more real to me sometimes than things that are light-hearted,” he said.
The duo plays regularly at the Deli in Norman.
Parker Millsap is nineteen years old. To think that he is nineteen years old after meeting him, listening to him and hearing the stories that he builds his music around is unfathomable. The fact that he is so young may be part of the reason that his bio offers very little about the singer/songwriter.
From his website: Parker Millsap was born.
From Facebook: Parker Millsap writes songs and then he sings them. Also, he sings other songs that he wishes he wrote.
That's not much to go on, especially when reviewing a debut album. But that's no matter, because the information that is missing is more than made up for in genuine talent. A bio really isn't necessary here because there is a lifetime of information in the stories that Parker Millsap tells. So to really get to know the man, you must listen to his music. And frankly, his music really does all the talking. The Tom Waits comparisons are valid, but I'll be the contrarian here and suggest an under-the-radar comp: Jake La Botz.
Parker Millsap plays guitar and sings. Michael Rose plays upright bass. The synergy and interplay between the two is amazing, as it should be. The two have grown together both as friends and as musicians and have forged an unparallelled chemistry. Both are incredibly proficient, so much in fact that like me, you'll have trouble comprehending that Palisade is a debut album and that neither are recording studio veterans. It's also difficult to think these guys could be chained to a studio instead of out busking their way across the country in true troubadour fashion. It's the capturing of that feeling that makes this album so endearing. You'll almost feel like throwing a few bucks and spare change in the direction of your sound system as you listen.
Millsap is a poet: at times his work can be dark and brooding, at other times hopeful, but most of all he has something to say, something to tell you that will grab you and attach itself to you and remain a part of you forever. It's probably impossible that at his age that Palisade is autobiographical, but if he hasn't lived this album, he's certainly seen quite a bit in his young life. Honestly, the Waits comparison is easy because of his voice, three double whiskey-rocks rough; road weary, yet smoothly aged at the same time. But honestly, the allegory and narration at work on this album is genuinely comparable to the works of Hank Williams and Bob Dylan.
Palisade is eleven tracks strong and the highlights are many. Seed, Central Pacific and Jackson's In A Hole are probably the strongest tracks on the album. The title track is equally good. Tuesday Night Rag is a classic folk instrumental that burns by too quickly while offering a nice diversion before the wickedly deep and candid I Hope I Die. Honestly, however, the Parker Millsap/Michael Rose experience, just like any good story, is incomplete if you don't immerse yourself completely and resolutely from start to finish.
And that's why Parker Millsap's star is on the rise. At nineteen, the man (and his debut album) is already a true American classic.
Strong words, I know. Strong comparisons as well. Too much to heap on the shoulders of such a young man? Not if you get to know him. Not if you listen to him. Though the style is not original, the soulful sound is, so you have something that is fresh and intimately familiar at the same time, and yes, though that description is incredibly equivocal, it is an equally clear and fair appraisal.
Palisade is an unvarnished blues and folk regalement, and Parker Millsap is a legend-in-the-making. Believe that.
Here are the nice things Brandy Bam MocDonnel had to say about our album. Thanks Bam.
"If you give Parker Millsap and Michael Rose's debut album a listen — and I highly recommend you give it more than one — you might just get the wrong idea.
After all, they sure don't sound like a couple of baby-faced recent Purcell High School graduates.
With “Palisade,” the red dirt duo proves the adage that age is nothing but a number. The Oklahomans do it all on this acoustic album: Millsap wrote the 11 songs, plays guitar and harmonica and sings every track in a deep, gravelly and preternaturally knowing voice that you won't soon forget. On bass, Rose not only gives each song a sturdy structure but also demonstrates an uncanny knack for knowing just when to nudge his rhythms toward the forefront. The musical partners have been playing together for about four years — you know, since they were high schoolers — and they've developed a solid chemistry.
The album opens with the bluesy title track that emphasizes the duo's remarkable musical maturity, particularly Millsap's gritty vocals reminiscent of Tom Waits, then takes a more folksy tone with the pretty ballad “Seed.” The duo shows off their impressive skills with the lively yet old-fashioned instrumental “Tuesday Night Rag,” which has a timeless sound that could fool you into believing it's been passed down from one picker to another since the early 20th century.
In the grand red dirt tradition, the pair especially excels at vivid story songs like the mournful lover's plea “Central Pacific,” the matter-of-fact musing on mortality “I Hope I Die” and the sad but cleverly worded tale of a trio of hard-luck cases “Jackson's in a Hole.”
Read more: http://newsok.com/cd-review-parker-millsap-and-michael-rose-palisade/article/3676353#ixzz1wTPk0FYR
Parker Millsap & Michael Rose - Palisade
Like velvet laid over gravel, Millsap’s voice plays gruff, jagged and unexpectedly smooth at the same time. He captures the essence of Tom Waits’ vocals better than a 19-year-old singer ever should; fans of Closing Time-era Waits will find lots to like here, albeit more countrified.
The opening title track saunters with a saucy strut that lets out a wallop over Millsap’s equally impressive abilities on the guitar. The more delicate “Seed” drifts like a dandelion across the sunset, and the pair fires full-force on the harrowing “Farmer’s Lament” and never lets down over 11 tracks.
It’s important not to undervalue Rose’s contributions. He’s not just Robin to Millsap’s Batman; his expertly placed bass lines give Palisade the weight it needs in lieu of drums or other backup.
Most impressive is that despite every opportunity to sand down that monumental voice into something more accessible and bending the arrangements to a poppier plane (think Mumford & Sons), the duo commits wholeheartedly to a more vintage appeal, thus giving them a character and credibility few other acts enjoy.
Palisade is dynamite, and if the right pieces fall into the right places, it’s not hard to imagine Millsap’s name up there with the likes of modern folk troubadours like Ray LaMontagne and Ryan Adams. He’s just that good.
That was electrifying!
In this week’s Wednesday Video Spotlight, check out this impressive performance by John Parker Millsap, 18, of Purcell, who will be playing a headlining set with red dirt mainstay Cody Canada Friday at Outlaws in Stillwater during the big Red Bull Gypsy Cafe.
John Cooper of the Red Dirt Rangers met the Purcell talent at the Tuesday Night Music Club in Cushing and told me that Millsap is “one of the finest young performer/songwriters I’ve ever seen at that age, ever.” When Red Bull tapped Cooper to organize the Gypsy Cafe, he decided to pair Millsap with Canada in one of the headlining slots, even though Canada and Milsap have never met.
The two-day Red Bull Gypsy Cafe will bring more than 30 longtime players and promising newcomers to the red dirt music movement’s birthplace of Stillwater for the filming of an online mini-documentary on Thursday at The Farm. The house may be gone, but that’s the site where the late Bob Childers, known as “the godfather of red dirt music,” once lived and turned his home into a gathering place for musicians. It is the point of origin for red dirt music, a mix of rock, country, folk and more, bluegrass, blues, Western swing and honky tonk. Red dirt is the first genre that will be chronicled for a new online docu-series called Red Bull Roots.
After the private gathering and filming session Thursday, the Red Bull Gypsy Cafe goes public Friday with a music festival at four venues on or near Washington Street, also known as The Strip. The music wills start at 7:30 p.m. Friday and play into the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Unlike most red dirt festivals, the organizers are pairing the players into duos, giving the fans and players alike a singular musical experience. For example, Cooper and fellow Rangers Ben Han and Brad Piccolo will be playing in three separate duets, with Han pairing with Jacobs, Piccolo with Skinner and Cooper with LaRue “because we have a real long history. I got Stoney his first raise, and he still crows about it.”
Judging from the schedule, the event will feature some great on-off duos, but Canada and Millsap definitely looks like a set to catch.