MusicfestNW, Friday: Rhett Miller

photo by William Anthony

Rhett Miller‘s country twang has colored his rock n’ roll career since it began, most notably with his band, the Old 97′s. Acclaimed for their energetic and enthralling live act, Rhett & company claim never to rehearse, a tradition that informs the group’s off-the-cuff Americana rock. Miller’s solo work is a little more practiced, but still just as passionate and riveting. Powerful strumming and blazing vocals make up Miller’s palette, but the 40-year-old can sound as young as 25 when he really belts it out. His tried and true roots rock blisters with emotion and fury, selling out shows around the country. Pretty impressive for a college dropout. His last and fourth album, a critically acclaimed self-titled, reached #128 on US charts, and Miller followed with a tour opening for Tori Amos. Now, though he’s older and has a daughter, Miller’s music still revolves around youthful heartbreak and love, which has been his strong suit all along. He’ll take his considerable songwriting talents to the general MusicFestNW audience, but first, a more intimate showing will take place live from KEXP’s stage at the Doug Fir.

Let’s begin this article with an understatement. Rhett Miller is a confident and talented songwriter. The only reason I make this statement is because half of his 35-minute set were fan requests. This is pretty mind-blowing, that an artist could take confidently take requests with a catalog the size of Miller’s (four solo albums and ten albums with The Old 97′s). He did play several Old 97 songs, including “Question” and “Blame It On Being A Girl.” Every time I see him, I feel like I keep on looking older and he keeps on looking like he is a young 25, yes he does --his story-filled lyrics are often sentimental and this is one of the main reasons that he has built up an intensively loyal fan base. Rhett Miller will continue making music for quite a while, I’m thinking, but he is certainly not a show that you want to pass up. Have a drink, take a date, see him tonight at Mississippi Studios at midnight!

photos by Brittney Bush Bollay:


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