This unassuming Oklahoma pretty-boy brought rock-n-roll and a young man’s fire into a sold-out Club Cafe.
Parker Millsap’s charisma was the first thing I noticed when he stepped in front of the audience. Although only 23 years old, he walked the stage as a veteran. His voice, reminiscent of Buddy Guy’s golden years, rang out, enchanting the audience. Many have also drawn comparisons to Elvis, and this guy has an obvious respect for the King. He emulated some of his characteristic style and movements, but added a boyish charm to the mix. He had a gentle demeanor and a real love for the audience. The crowd often received kind words from Parker, similar to what’s expected of southern charm.
Parker also had some serious pipes. His singing sounded effortless as he roared through the beginning of the set. When he belted his notes, there was old soul pain flowing through his young blood. He sang his hits just as cleanly but twice as powerfully as they are in his recordings. His slower tunes were reminiscent of Irish folk tales, but instead with sultry narratives about the eight hours he had spent home alone while his girlfriend was at work. He lulled the crowd and rocked them peacefully with sweet melodies and warm songs. The lyrics he sang painted colorful stories, often with plot twists and biblical references. He played his music with skill and an abundance of influences, ranging from blues to hints of progressive metal. This, combined with the maturity of Millsap’s approach, really spoke to his talented songwriting.
While Parker’s voice alone was more than enough to laud praise, his group’s soul was bountiful in each member of the trio. The fiddle, the upright bass and Parker’s guitar played together as an independent unit in perfect compliment to his voice. Bassist Michael Rose, in contrast to the stoicism typical of bass players, was shaking and grooving the most out of the three of them. His integral walking lines were calm and well-executed. Daniel Foulks busted out passionate fiddle solos that were simple and beautifully constructed. His sliding vocal harmonies bellowed just above Parker’s melodies; these played well into gem moments when fiddle and guitar had direct call and response. Although his little licks often fell under the radar, they were present and they were slick when they peered through.
This show was both a delightful throwback and a vision of the future. It was a treat to hear and feel Parker Millsap’s strength as a musician. Someone in the audience screamed “unbelievable” about once every other song. That awestruck fan managed to get the whole audience to yelp in chorus at Parker’s masterful performance.