Old 97’s
Premier Concerts and Manic Presents:

Old 97’s

with John Hollier‎
Doors: 7:00 pm | Show: 8:00 pm
All Ages
Space Ballroom
Hamden, CT

General Admission Standing Room Only

OLD 97'S

“Rock and roll’s been very very good to me,” Rhett Miller sings on “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive,” an epic six-minute stream-of-consciousness meditation on his life in music. It’s a rare moment of pulling back the curtain, on both the excesses and tedium of the world of a touring musician, and it’s the perfect way to open the Old 97’s new album, ‘Most Messed Up.’

“I wrote that song very quickly and didn’t rewrite one word of it,” Miller explains. “It’s sort of a thesis statement not just for this record, but for my life’s work.”

To say that rock and roll has been good to the Old 97’s (guitarist/vocalist Miller, bassist/vocalist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples) would be an understatement. The band emerged from Dallas twenty years ago at the forefront of a musical movement blending rootsy, country-influenced songwriting with punk rock energy and delivery. The New York Times has described their major label debut, ‘Too Far To Care,’ as “a cornerstone of the ‘alternative country’ movement…[that] leaned more toward the Clash than the Carter Family.” They’ve released a slew of records since then, garnering praise from NPR and Billboard to SPIN and 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.” The band performed on television from Letterman to Austin City Limits and had their music appear in countless film and TV soundtracks (they appeared as themselves in the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston movie ‘The Break Up’). Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan told The Hollywood Reporter that he put the band on a continuous loop on his iPod while writing the show’s final scene.

‘Most Messed Up’ finds the Old 97’s at their raucous, boozy best, all swagger and heart. Titles like “Wasted,” “Intervention,” “Wheels Off,” “Let’s Get Drunk And Get It On,” and “Most Messed Up” hint at the kind of narrators Miller likes to inhabit, men who possess an appetite for indulgence and won’t let a few bad decisions get in the way of a good story.

“A few people in my life said, ‘You can’t sing ‘Let’s get drunk and get it on,'” Miller remembers. “I said, ‘What do you mean? I’ve been singing that sentiment for 20 years! I was just never so straightforward about it.'”

It was a trip to Music City that inspired Miller to throw away his inhibitions as songwriter and cut right to the heart of things.

“For me, this record really started in Nashville on a co-write session with John McElroy,” he says. “I really admired his wheels off approach to songwriting, And I liked the idea he had for how he thought I should interact with my audience. He said, ‘I think your fans want you to walk up to the mic and say fuck.’ It was liberating.” It reminded me that I don’t have to be too serious or too sincere or heartfelt. I just have to have fun and be honest. I felt like I kind of had free reign to go ahead and write these songs that were bawdier and more adult-themed.”

The magic in Miller’s songwriting lies in the depth that he lends his characters. Upon closer inspection, the hard partying and endless pursuit of a good time often reveals itself to be a band-aid covering up deeper wounds and emotional scars.

“There’s a lot of darkness hidden in this record,” he explains. “One of the big Old 97’s tricks is when we write about something kind of dark and depressing, it works best when it’s a fun sounding song. So it’s not until the third or fourth listen that you realize the narrator of this song is a complete disaster.”

If that description calls to mind The Replacements, it’s no coincidence. Miller is a fan of the Minneapolis cult heroes, and now counts Tommy Stinson among his own friends and fans. Best known as bassist for the Mats and more recently Guns ‘n’ Roses, Stinson joined the Old 97’s in the studio in Austin, Texas, to lay down electric guitar on ## tracks, elevating the sense of reckless musical abandon to new heights and lending the album an air of the Rolling Stones’ double-guitar attack. It’s a collaboration Miller never would have even imagined in 1994 when the band released their debut

“We didn’t think we’d last until the year 1997,” Miller laughs. “We thought the name would get a little weird when it became 1997, but we decided none of our bands had ever lasted that long, so let’s not even worry about it. But as it all started to unfold, we realized we could maybe make a living doing this, and we were all really conscious of wanting to be a career band. It was way more important to us to maintain a really high level of quality, at the expense, perhaps, of having hit singles or fitting in with the trends of the time, and I’m glad we did that.”

Twenty years on, it’s safe to say rock and roll has indeed been very, very good to the Old 97’s.

Links: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify


Life leaves its imprint on us in the form of memories, scars, and lessons. Like a well-trodden and trusted highway, Hollier proudly brandishes the wisdom and experience of a fascinating personal journey in his music. The Louisiana-born and Nashville-based singer, songwriter, and guitarist shares honest stories over a backdrop of gruff heartland rock with a twist of country soul. He’s gone from accompanying multiplatinum stars such as Carly Pearce and Cassadee Pope to generating north of 1 million streams independently and packing houses as a solo artist. Now, he formally introduces himself on his self-titled 2023 full-length debut, Hollier.

“I’m trying to tell a story,” he emphasizes. "I’ve done a lot of growth as an artist, as a writer, and as a person. I wanted this record to be raw and show some scars, but I also wanted it to have subtle moments. I hope people hear the honesty in these songs.”

Hailing from Central Louisiana, Hollier absorbed a passion for music through his family. His uncle performed in a Cajun zydeco band, while his brothers picked up guitar. He initially experienced live music through the church and honkytonks, teaching himself chords on the internet and gigging with local bands. At the same time, he listened to everyone from Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Byrds to Ozzy Osbourne. After two years at Louisiana State University, he transferred to Belmont University and settled in Nashville. He joined Levi Hummon’s band as a guitarist, hitting the road with Dwight Yoakam and more. During 2018, he handled guitar duties for Cassadee Pope before serving as a touring guitarist for Carly Pearce.

Not long after, he made a crucial decision…

“I made a personal pact to not simply be a hired gun by the end of the year,” he recalls. “I wanted to put out my own material.”

During 2019, he dropped “War Cry” and gained coveted playlist placements on Spotify, racking up nearly half-a-million streams. “Living in the van,” he logged 55 shows coast-to-coast and chronicled the experience with “Jeff Buckley’s Ghost.” He caught the attention of GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer Eric Masse [Miranda Lambert]. They hit the studio to record what would become the album with a little help from Cage The Elephant guitarist Nick Bockrath, multi-instrumentalist Robbie Crowell of Deer Tick and Midland, and Miranda Lambert drummer G. Maxwell Zemanovic.

“We did everything analog,” he goes on. “We got in one room and cut the tunes live. I’d never done anything like that before, but I trusted the system. I’m so happy with how it turned out.”

The first single “Reckless Love” ebbs and flows between gruff verses and a skyscraping refrain uplifted by unpredictable guitars and airy keys as he assures, “I don’t mind, if you don’t mind, a little reckless love.”

“At the time, we were playing to audiences who were as gritty as the bars and clubs themselves,” he admits. “Henry Conlon and I wrote several songs about the scene, and our muse was an imaginary traveling songwriter girl. She’s on a perpetual tour, and she’s always looking for love in the wrong places.”

Piano and guitar entwine on “Devil’s in the Details” before a soaring saxophone solo shines in the spotlight.

“It’s a personal favorite,” he grins. “It tells another story. You let some guy into your house, and you tell yourself it doesn’t bother you how he creeps you out. I was watching a lot of NETFLIX documentaries at the time,” he laughs.

Slide guitar glows on “Wrestle My Heart” as he sings “about laying it out there for someone who loves you even though it’s going to be tough love.” Then, there’s the rollicking “St. Germain.” Channeling New Orleans folklore, the track sinks its teeth into the lore of vampire Jacques St. Germain who “folks still apparently see to this day,” as he notes.

A steady beat simmers on “Malina” as he bottles the tension of mythic tale amidst evocative instrumentation. It burns off on the embers of multiple acoustic guitars around a lone microphone.

“Malina is an Inuit sun goddess,” he elaborates. “She ran so fast she became the sun, and Anningan ran so fast he became the moon chasing her. The tribe witnessed the chase every day like a spiritual clock.”

In the end, Hollier puts everything he’s gained on his road into his songs—and he makes an instant connection.

“At this point, I’ve been playing for as long as I can remember,” he concludes. “This embodies a 20-year journey. It shows what music always was for me—plugging in and not being afraid to make mistakes. I hope you hear that. I’m being as honest as I can be with the sounds and my storytelling.”

Links: Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify