Solo-act Milam strikes up band

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Go Out - By Mark Jor­dan Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

While dog sit­ting ear­lier this week for a friend in East Mem­phis, singer-song­writer Chris Milam de­cided to use the time to work on record­ing some ideas for his next record, only to be thwarted by his ca­nine charge.

“It keeps try­ing to be part of the demo,” says Milam, be­mused by the bark­ing pup. “It keeps try­ing to be a back­ground vo­cal­ist.”

Suf­fice to say Fido won’t be part of the lineup Thurs­day when Milam de­buts his new band with a show at the Hi-tone Café. In­stead, the singer and gui­tarist has re­cruited a trio of two-legged young mu­si­cians from the city’s al­ter­na­tive mu­sic scene, in­clud­ing gui­tarist Seth Hen­dricks and bas­sist Keith Pounds, both late of the band Rainy Day Man­ual, and Vis­i­ble School grad­u­ate Corey Yoder on drums.

For Milam, who be­came a full-time mu­si­cian in 2004, the band rep­re­sents both a re­turn and a de­par­ture. For most of his ca­reer — which in­cludes two well-re­viewed full-length al­bums and an EP — the Mem­phis na­tive has made his liv­ing tour­ing as a solo act. But as he be­gan to write songs for his third al­bum, Milam be­gan to yearn for a big­ger, fuller sound from his youth.

“All the stuff I’m writ­ing right now for this next record just re­ally begs for a band,” says the Hous­ton High School grad­u­ate. “Gig­ging around on the road it was al­ways eas­ier to tour solo, just pack up and go my­self, just me and the gui­tar. I got used to that, but I re­ally missed play­ing full band. That’s kind of how I grew up, learn­ing in­stru­ments, play­ing with folks in crappy mid­dle school and high school garage bands.”

The son of ed­u­ca­tors — be­fore mov­ing to Arkansas his fa­ther taught English at Rhodes Col­lege and his mother at St. Mary’s Epis­co­pal School — Milam didn’t take the idea of a mu­sic ca­reer se­ri­ously un­til he went away to col­lege at Van­der­bilt Univer­sity. There he threw him­self as much into Nashville’s mu­sic scene as his stud­ies.

Milam “sprinted to the fin­ish line in col­lege so I could start play­ing out as much as pos­si­ble and just get mu­sic go­ing full time.” Shortly af­ter grad­u­at­ing, in 2005 he re­leased his de­but al­bum, dy­namic Amer­i­cana ef­fort that be­trayed the tunesmith’s lit­er­ary up­bring­ing on tracks like “Mem­phis Queen.”

“I would love to say that any lit­er­ary bent to my song­writ­ing is def­i­nitely

Please see


in­ten­tional,” says Milam, who traces his mu­si­cal de­vel­op­ment to long, well-pro­grammed car trips with the fam­ily. “But re­ally, it’s prob­a­bly the case that what­ever is there has seeped in over the years and maybe my sub­con­scious is try­ing its best keep up with the brain power in my fam­ily.”

Milam spent much of the next two years on the road. Heav­ily courted by Nashville pub­lish­ers, he re­turned in 2008 with the more pop-in­flu­enced EP

The next year he re­treated to his par­ents’ Arkansas at­tic for two months of in­tense song­writ­ing. With pro­ducer Steve Martin, he crafted those songs into 2009’s , an in­ti­mate, vir­tual one-man record­ing that ham­mered home the grow­ing num­ber of com­par­isons to Paul Si­mon with a post­mod­ern take on the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s “The Boy in the Bub­ble.”

Fol­low­ing , Milam made a brief re­lo­ca­tion to New York City be­fore re­turn­ing to Mem­phis two years ago.

“Re­ally, the two cities I’ve al­ways loved are Mem­phis and New York,” says Milam, who spends up to a third of the year on the road away from wher­ever it is he calls home. “So when it came to hav­ing a cheaper home base for tour­ing, I al­ways knew I wanted to come home to Mem­phis. It’s a won­der­ful mu­sic town and it’s where friends and fam­ily are that I love.”

Un­der­stand­ably, the move is hav­ing an im­pact on Milam’s mu­sic. Last year, he re­leased

a two-song EP pro­duced by Jeff Pow­ell at Mem­phis’ Ar­dent Stu­dios, that bounced be­tween his en­sem­ble rock and in­su­lar song­writer im­pulses. But with plans to go in the stu­dio in June (he’s still rais­ing money for the project through the on­line fund­ing site Pledgemu­sic), Milam says his first Mem­phis-pro­duced full length will be a more lively af­fair.

“It’s a lit­tle bit of a re­turn home to my Mem­phis roots. ... I’m def­i­nitely ex­cited about just get­ting in a room with guys and mak­ing noise again.”

Cour­tesy Sig­nal Flow PR

Photo cour­tesy The Tr­ishas

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.