Oklahoma charmer Parker Millsap is bringing his Southern roots to the Bay Area next week, after the release of his new album, Other Arrangements. Reflecting back, Parker spoke to The Daily Californian about his start in music and where it’s taken him since.
“I was raised in a church where music was a big part of the service,” Millsap said on his first influences. Now a singer, songwriter and guitarist, besides having other musical talents, he implements many features found in up-tempo Southern gospel into his original pieces.
Many have taken note of the singer’s flair, especially the musical icon Elton John. Millsap performed with the star in London’s Apple Music Festival in 2016, calling the experience “kind of insane” and “surreal.”
“He’s a super genuine sweetheart,” Millsap said of the British idol. “He’s super into what he does and he listens to tons of music all day long. It’s really great to see someone of that status hold humility and passion for their career after so many years of stardom.”
Regardless of his claim to fame, Millsap maintains his humility and genuine personality, not letting the exposure get to his head.
“I’m still not sure that I can sing,” the singer said with a laugh. “I have faith that there’s enough people that’ll listen to me that I can make a living. I know that the music I sing is not necessarily going to lead me to be a pop star.”
The new album, which was released in May, has more of a rock twang vibe than his previous style, but follows the same blues influence.
“This (album) is a little more directly influenced by the Rolling Stones and the Beatles,” Millsap said. “This is my sixth or seventh record to release to the world since high school. The songs are really fun to play live — I spend so much time touring; that’s pretty essential.”
The Other Arrangements tour, which kicked off earlier this month, is heading to San Francisco the night before Halloween. “Gotta Get to You” is one of the singer’s favorite tracks to perform live, and he’s looking forward to being able to change it up for an audience surprise.
“We’re playing The Chapel, which is a wonderful venue,” Millsap said. “I’ve seen multiple shows there. San Francisco is always a fun city to play.”
He continued: “We don’t get to do a whole lot of touristy things. I just love playing music. So the show is just really the highlight of the day. That’s what keeps me going on the road.”
The band just finished a European tour — Millsap said his favorite show was one played on a small island north of the Netherlands. The landscape there featured both beach and pine forest, and he said it was one of the more open and relaxed shows he has played.
“In the states, people are more likely to yell during the song, like when a big moment happens,” Millsap said about his live performances. “But in Europe, they save it all for the end of the song. (They) freak out more than Americans do, but they save it for the end of the song.”
There aren’t too many unexpected shifts for viewers in this round of tour dates, but Millsap is bringing a few new elements to the stage.
“I got a new amp this year, so I’ll be bringing that out,” he said with a laugh. While the shows may not be changing up too much, he plans on playing “more acoustic ballad-type stuff” than usual.
Millsap’s advice for upcoming concertgoers is just this: “Don’t get in a fight at the show.” The blues singer guaranteed all attendees a good time, and as he worded it, “If it sucks, we’ll give you your money back.”