From Small Town to Big Time
By Jan Sikes
Purcell, Okla., sits right in the heart of the state and boasts a population of 6,340 people. So, exactly how does a young man get from this tiny town to the big Nashville, Tenn., stages?
Millsap has opened shows for some of the biggest names in country and folk music – Old Crow Medicine Show, Patty Griffin, Shovels and Rope, Lake Street Drive, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jason Isbell, John Fullbright and Sarah Jarosz.
Most recently, he wrapped up a banner year, which included his network television debut on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He received an invitation to play with Elton John at the renowned Apple Music Festival, participated in an Austin City Limits taping and received an Americana Music Association nomination for Album of the Year. Millsap also took away the Artist of the Year from the International Folk Music Awards.
That’s quite a list of accomplishments for a young man still in his twenties.
Millsap first picked up the guitar at age nine, then graduated to electric after discovering Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He formed a cover band while in high school, Fever in Blue, with a classmate, Michael Rose, who still plays bass with him today.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Millsap moved to Northern California where he interned at Prairie Sun Recording Studio. The experience he gained there proved to be invaluable. Sonoma County artist Tom Waits, whose Bone Machine album, winner of the 1992 Grammy for Best Alternative release, was co-produced by Waits and his wife, Kathleen Brennan, entirely at Prairie Sun. It was also the site of historic recordings or post-productions by Van Morrison, Greg Allman, Kate Wolf, Mickey Hart, Primus, Faith No More, the Melvins, Ramblin’ Jack Eliot and surf music creator Dick Dale.
It wasn’t until Millsap returned to Oklahoma that he put away the electric guitar and focused on songwriting.
In 2012, he released an indie album, “Palisade,” and sold them out of the trunk of his car.
Read the June issue to learn more!