All things considered, an early fall Saturday night full of live music is not a bad way to spend your time. Getting the opportunity to hear two songwriters you’re fairly unfamiliar with, and walking away impressed is even better. That’s how I spent last Saturday night, attending the Myriad Gardens Signature Concert. Just adjacent to the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory is the Devon Lawn Bandshell, all of which is smack dab in the shadow of downtown on 15 acres of lush and beautiful gardens. The evening’s bill for the free concert series featured a pair of Oklahoma songwriters, Parker Millsap and Chase Kerby.
Taking the stage first was OKC resident Chase Kerby and his band The Villians. The band features members of Horse Thief, including Alberto Roubert on drums, Zach Zeller on keys and Alex Coleman on guitar. Playing songs from a swath of independent releases and a forthcoming release “Concentrated Carbon”, Kerby played a fabulous set. Highlights for me included “Concussions”, “Orion’s Belt” and a steller rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”. The Stevie Nicks song was a nice choice to accentuate Kerby’s ability to interpret and reinvent while maintaining his band’s own individuality and distinctness. His really entertaining set closed out with a clever take on relationships penned as “Dodging The Draft.” Kerby is a songwriter to keep an eye on. He and The Villians captivated the crowd as the sun set, and were a fitting precursor for Parker Millsap.
Millsap hails from Purcell, OK which is a bit south of OKC. The young songwriter plays a captivating mix of rock, pop, gospel blues and folk. So yeah, basically Americana. Millsap is touring in support of his newest release from earlier this year, Other Arrangements, which I highly recommend. Millsap is backed by an immensely talented band featuring Michael Rose on bass, Daniel Foulks on guitar and fiddle, and Andrew Bones on drums. They’re as steady a band as you’ll find and whipped through a 20 song or so set with practiced ease. Millsap led the band through every track from the new album as well as a wealth of earlier tracks. Highlights from the set included the set opener, “Coming On,” “Hades Pleads” “Your Water” and “Truck Stop Gospel.” But the absolute stunner for me was “Heaven Sent.” The song which is from from the album “The Very Last Day” tells the story of a young gay man seeking acceptance from his father, a Preacher. It’s everything you want from a talented songwriter, and it really got to me on this night.
Yet, Millsap is more than just a formidable songwriter. He’s no slouch on the fretboard either. He ripped off fiery solo after fiery solo throughout the night on his guitar as well as harmonica. So in the end, I walked away impressed by both bands this evening, neither of which I had seen before. That fact now seems downright silly. Oklahoma is a somewhat overlooked hotbed of crazy talented singer songwriters right now. Getting to see two of them in one night absolutely made the evening.
Parker Millsap continues his tour into November. You can find more information here: http://www.parkermillsap.com/tour/
Chase Kerby looks to be staying local for now, but I fully expect you’ll be hearing more from him once the album drops. Keep up with him here: http://chasekerby.com/