You should know who Rhett Miller is by now. However, don’t feel bad if you don’t. There is still time. If fame were automatically given to those with songwriting talent, paying your dues, and entertaining crowds for years, Rhett would be at the top of the heap. There is no question Rhett Miller possesses all of these. Critics have loved him for years. Mainstream radio just hasn’t caught up to him yet. But Rhett and his band have never slowed down and it doesn’t look like they intend to any time soon. There’s still time to discover one of the hardest working musicians in the industry.
In 1989, Dallas musician Rhett Miller recorded Mythologies with friend and future bandmate Murry Hammond. The two later formed the alt-country group The Old 97s in 1993. Along with guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples, The Old 97s became what the New York Times has described as “a cornerstone of the ‘alternative country’ movement…[that] leaned more toward the Clash than the Carter Family.” Rhett and his band’s style helped lead the movement of “alternative-country.” Over the last two decades, the band has consistently raised and blurred the bar among the alt-country elite. Rolling Stone, who hailed the band as “four Texans raised on the Beatles and Johnny Cash in equal measures, whose shiny melodies, and fatalistic character studies, do their forefathers proud.” Today, they are widely recognized as the pioneers of the alt-country movement of the 90’s along with others like The Drive-By Truckers and The Bottle-Rockets.
After nine years and five studio albums with the Old 97’s, Rhett Miller tried his hand again at a solo career with the release of The Instigator in 2002. Since then Rhett has continued to balance his solo career with the enduring success of the band. Today, Rhett has seven solo albums under his belt, along with the ten studio albums with the group. The most recent being the 2015 release of The Traveler. It was a collaboration along with members of Black Prairie, a band based in Portland that plays everything from bluegrass to klezmer to country. Others included Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, formally of the band R.E.M. The album is a contrast from his usual offerings with the Old 97s. As Rhett puts it, “Where the 97’s record was raw and raunchy, these songs needed a more delicate touch.”
Rhett and the Old 97s sound could be described as raw and real. No apologies for not selling out and latching on to “bro-country” radio stations. Rhett is still carrying the torch for his brand of alternative-country. Just as it was twenty-six years ago, there is still time to save music. There’s still time to “discover” Rhett Miller.
Rhett Miller performs Saturday, March 26, at the Cultural Activities Center. Show starts at 7:30. To purchase advance reserved seat tickets CLICK HERE