Parker Millsap to Perform in Paducah on Friday
Singer-songwriter and Oklahoma native Parker Millsap performs in Paducah, Kentucky, this Friday, September 10th. Millsap speaks to Tracy Ross ahead of his rescheduled performance about the creative process, songwriting styles, and how it feels to return to live music.
Millsap was originally scheduled to perform in Paducah in March 2020. However, the show was canceled due to COVID-19. Over a year later, Millsap finds that his fifth album, Be Here Instead, seems to speak to the pandemic experience despite being written before it.
"Once we got into the recording process, we were at the beginning of lockdown," Millsap says. "Having that perspective and rereading my lyrics I had written, it made me turn my head, like, weird—some of this stuff feels even more relevant now than when I wrote it, which is a new sensation for me."
"It wasn't intentional," he laughs. "I feel, weirdly, on the other end of it, it helped me pre-process some of the stuff that happened during the pandemic. I was already dealing with some of those things when it hit."
Millsap says that his most recent album is the most experimental in terms of the creative process. Rather than writing lyrics first, then instrumentation, Millsap chose the opposite.
"I wrote the music first," he explains. "I was listening back to [demos] and trying to come up with a melody or lyrics that fit. As soon as I hit on something that felt right, I would just try to take that energy and move forward without thinking about it. As soon as I had a lyric I liked, I would just start writing. Just try to get it out before I could think about it too hard."
The songwriter says he also chose to explore feelings and emotional concepts as opposed to strict storytelling. "Coming from Oklahoma and being involved in that songwriter scene, [narrative-focused writing] is a lot of what goes on. On these songs, I wasn't so focused on that."
"I found that I was just talking from myself rather than speaking from somebody else's point of view. I feel a lot of these songs don't have a narrative arc the way my previous work does. But to me, that feels more like real life in some ways. We can't always see the story arc we're participating in. From where we're sitting, we're mostly dealing with feelings."
After taking an unintended hiatus from live music, Millsap says he is excited and grateful to be back on stage. "It's incredibly reassuring. There's nothing else quite like a live show. Everybody has to be right here, right now, paying attention to what's going on."
"As a musician, you have to be reacting every millisecond. Refresh, keep going, next note, next line," he continues. "It's amazing to be able to do that again. I feel like on this side of everything, I'm able to feel a certain level of gratitude that I've always felt, but the past year and a half has really made it much more apparent how lucky I am to get to do this."
"You really start to understand all the ways you've taken it for granted in the past. Or at least that's how I felt, you know. Not that I was ever ungrateful, but now I have a new high," Millsap laughs.
Millsap, supported by Nightingail, performs at the 1857 Hotel in Paducah on Friday, September 10th, at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
Audience members must check in with either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from the previous 48 hours. Additionally, the audience is asked to wear a mask while moving about the venue. Masks can be taken off while seated.