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Old 97's Returning to DFW

The North Texas band, The Old 97's are approaching their 19th year in the alternative country career and many believe they made alternative country cool and have surprisingly stuck around to tell their successful tale. The band began with their first album who's title was very familiar to north Texans: Hitchhike to Rhome. Rhome, TX is a tiny little Texas town, north of Fort Worth and South West of Denton. The Old 97's band members play all the same instruments taught at Matt Burk Music Studio.

  • Rhett Miller – lead vocals, rhythm guitar and lyrics
  • Murry Hammond – bass guitar, occasional lead vocals, backup vocals
  • Ken Bethea – lead guitar
  • Philip Peeples – drums and backup vocals

Rhett Miller, the band's lead singer, writes most of the songs. He comes from a folk background.

Miller's Take on the Music Industry

When Rhett Miller was 8 years old, his parents took him to see his first concert. The Kingston Trio, a legendary folk band from before his time, amazed him.

“There was a real, sort of lighthearted sense about what they did that I really appreciated and still think about to emulate now,” Miller said during a recent telephone interview. “Even if they were singing ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ for the 5 billionth time, they still performed it and sold it.”

In an industry where career length rarely reaches a decade, Miller has been successfully recording and performing since 1994, when he and his alternative-country band Old 97’s released their first studio album, “Hitchhike to Rhome.” They have since released almost a dozen albums, with their latest, “The Grand Theatre Volume One and Two."

In addition, Miller has recorded three highly acclaimed solo albums and continues to write and record in a music industry that he said has transformed drastically since he began his career in the mid-1990s.

“I don’t think it could be much different,” Miller said of the music industry. “In 1994, there was a very distinct hierarchy. To think that your life’s goal was to sign a contract. ... It’s so funny to me now that that was what we were all striving so hard for — the validation of the major label.”

Old 97’s was being courted by numerous record labels and was “being wined and dined and flown to New York, flown to Los Angeles… .,” Miller explained. “It was crazy. But back then, it was one in a million that you would even get a shot. It would be incredibly unlikely you’d ever get a chance to sit in a boardroom with those people. Now those people are all gone and the boardrooms are gone. And I think that has to be a good thing.”

The demise of the major labels, the emergence of digital music downloads and the changing music business has actually allowed Miller’s music to reach a wider audience, he said. Though his tunes may not top the Billboard charts, Miller said he’s noticing an increase in younger fans. It also hasn’t hurt that there are avenues for younger audiences to hear his music that didn’t exist some 16 years ago.

“‘Rock Band’ might have something to do with that,” Miller said, referring to the Old 97’s song “Timebomb,” which is available for the popular video game. “There are a lot of people that discovered us watching ‘Scrubs’ … and [the movie] ‘The Break-Up’ that came out a few years ago with Vince Vaughn; that came out on [television] already … so we probably gain a new fan every time that comes on.”

Music Shows This Weekend in DFW

The Old 97's will play at Concert in the Gardens in Fort Worth Sunday night. Concert in the Gardens is a great family outting with table and lawn seating available. Kids under 10 get in free. Pack a picnic and some lawn chairs and enjoy alternative country with a fireworks finale this Sunday, June 26th!

If you love that folk sound, but can't make it to Sunday night's show, take in folk wonder, EmmyLou Harris tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m! Thursday at AT&T Performing Arts Center, Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St., Dallas. Tickets are $25-$65.

Opportunities for You

Do you feel inspired by the Old 97's of EmmyLou Harris? Wish to be a singer/songwriter? Our Summer Music Camp's Master Classes will cover everything from recording demos to song writing to commercializing your talent. Summer Music Camp will fit any skill level for school aged kids. Wanna know more? Check it out.

Learn bass guitar, drums, vocals, and guitar with Matt Burk Music Studio! We have a fun learning environment for any skill level and would be happy to set up a complimentary interview with the instructor of the instrument of your choice!