by Steve Danielsson
Last week, Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller came to City Winery to celebrate the release of his newest album “The Traveler." Miller recorded the album last year in Portland with members of Black Prairie, who have an eclectic energy and sound that perfectly complements Miller’s songwriting style. On this evening, Rhett performed a solo set featuring songs from the new record as well as fan favorites from Old 97's.
Armed only with his Gibson Jumbo and a microphone, Miller has the ability to capture an audience and keep them locked in all night. He played with the unbridled enthusiasm of a young singer-songwriter just making his mark on the scene, but as he reminded us, “we’ve been doing it longer than you’ve been alive, twenty good years of about twenty-five.” Maybe it’s the Rhett Miller Cabernet available at City Winery that keeps this lifelong rocker ageless, or all of the whiskey he likes to sing about.
You can tell the mark of a great songwriter when longtime fans are most excited to hear the newest tracks, and are already singing along. “Fair Enough,” seemed to echo an all-too familiar thought: “A little would suffice, but me, I want too much.” Couples sipped wine and cuddled up close during “Question,” a fan favorite telling the story of a couple embarking on an engagement. In classic alt-country style, Miller followed up with “Wish The Worst,” a tale of a broken hearted man begging all the world’s misery on the one he loves who doesn’t seem to love him back.
Miller will be on the road this summer and fall performing with The Old 97’s, but be on the lookout for a return to City Winery before the end of the year.