Can you feel it?

The unmistakable charge in the air that can mean only one thing: another Old 97’s work of rock is being conceived a stone’s throw from the border.

That’s right fellow Wreckers, our favorite foursome is hard at work siring lucky number eleven in the creative confines of Sonic Ranch Recording Studios in Tornillo, Texas. The very same studios in which 20 years prior, four talented young men, fresh off a label bidding war, full of swagger and promise, settled in to beget their seminal musical effort, Too Far To Care.

We all know 2014’s phenomenal Most Messed Up is a tough act to follow, but jangling around amongst the ghost of TFTC past seems a damn good omen. Even Rhett felt the whispered hush of his twenty-something self upon his return to the scene of their tipping point.

Before heading to Tornillo, the band spent a number of preproduction days on a ranch in Tyler working through their nascent collection of songs.

So who’s driving the 97’s train?


Four-time Grammy winner, Vance Powell has his hand on the throttle this eleventh time around the track. He’s pulling off the trifecta: producing, engineering and mixing. And who is Vance Powell?

Hailing from Missouri, Vance moved to Nashville in the 90s to work as a monitor engineer for the legendary Tammy Wynette. In 2002, he helped build Blackbird Studios, and later became co-owner of Sputnik Sound. Vance has worked extensively with Jack White, as well as Big and Rich, Willie Nelson, Jars of Clay, Buddy Guy, Danger Mouse, The Whigs, Black Prairie, Elle King and Chris Stapleton who recently won three CMAs, including Album of the Year for his most recent album, Traveller.

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Murry speaks highly of their collaboration. “Our producer Vance is great. I really like him. He comes from more humble beginnings as a crew person on tours, into the engineering world, to his grammy that he just got for the Chris Stapleton record. He’s one of us, and we always do better around someone who feels more like a distant family member.”

Sounds like a nice fit.

Murry was kind enough to offer up some thoughts about heading back in this studio after so many years. Here’s what he had to say.

“This is day five for us, and I’ve settled into my routine. Wake up, think some version of the phrase “I get to do it again!”, get some very strong coffee from the kitchen, go pet one or more of the four kitties that live around the hacienda we’re living in, and head down the the studio where there is good internet, the Christmas lights inside are powered up, and where, except for a couple of meals, I’ll be parked til 10pm tonight.”


“I know it’s been 20 years since we’ve been at this studio, and since Too Far, but honestly, it just doesn’t seem like it. The only sign that it’s been “a long time ago” is my inability to recall the layout and details about the buildings that make up Sonic Ranch studio. I guess I remember what I want to remember — the pecan trees (there were 1500 acres of them then, and 2200 acres now), the big sky and stars (desert style, zero light pollution) and the homieness of my room and the place where we get to eat Mexican food 24-7. Those haven’t changed one bit. The place is much busier these days — Sublime are here, as is David from Bauhaus, so for me it’s been great fun talking 80’s California hardcore with one guy and 1977 British punk with another, all over fantastic homemade breakfast burritos.”


“The recordings are making me happy. I won’t say too much about the songs, except that there are some real ear-worms, it’s thick and big and raw enough for my garage/punk leanings. Rhett sounds great, and I hope to also sound great when I’m on the hot-seat tomorrow. Everyone is firing on all cylinders. For my part, I have a punky Smokers/Book of Poems type song called “Nobody”, and a 60s-garage/Animals-ish one called Off My Mynd. The “Y” is in there to freak you out and expand your mynd.”




“I’m not going to go on about this being our 11th studio album — it is, but — I don’t care. Every one of our records has happily been the most current and most important one, and we usually have only a general sense of where a new record will live in what is becoming a healthy fat catalog.”





“I will say we wanted somewhat to do something “different” from Most Messed Up, but… it’s never really *that* different, is it? Same life, same (great) people, same process of cracking open the human heart and conveying it where other human hearts will understand. Nostalgia is something we don’t dabble too much in, except for fun over drinks or food with good friends, where nostalgia can be a great sport. But for now, it’s 10:45am and I’m about to go for 11 hours, where I couldn’t be happier.”

(photos courtesy of Jason Garner, Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples)

Thrilled to announce we’re hitting the road with the Heartless Bastards!

Tix on sale 2/5. Most dates feature support from BJ Barham (of American Aquarium).


Wed, May 4  New Orleans  One Eyed Jacks

Thu, May 5  Nashville  Cannery Ballroom

Fri, May 6  Birmingham  Saturn

Sat, May 7  Atlanta  Terminal West

Sun, May 8  Carrboro  Cat’s Cradle

Mon, May 9  Washington, DC  9:30 Club

Tue, May 10 Brooklyn  Music Hall of Williamsburg

Thu, May 12  New York  Irving Plaza

Fri, May 13  Boston  Royale Boston

Sat, May 14  Philadelphia  Union Transfer

Sun, May 15  Buffalo  Tralf Music Hall

Mon, May 16  Toronto  Lee’s Palace

Wed, May 18  Cleveland Beachland Ballroom

Thu, May 19  Cincinnati  The Woodward Theater

Fri, May 20  Cincinnati The Woodward Theater

Sat, May 21  Chicago  Thalia Hall

Sun, May 22  Minneapolis First Ave

Tue, May 24  St. Louis  The Ready Room

Wed, May 25  Tulsa  Cain’s Ballroom

We’re pretty damn excited to announce the first ever Old 97’s County Fair, this April 16 in downtown Dallas. Featuring live performances from:

Old 97’s
Drive By Truckers
Deer Tick
Justin Townes Earle
Nikki Lane
Brent Best
Madison King

And tons of fun for the whole family, including:
Ferris Wheel
Midway games
Dunk Tanks
Food Trucks
Fair Food (corn dogs, funnel cakes, etc)
Local Artists and Vendors
Kids Under 10 are Free
Dog Friendly

We can’t wait to see ya there!

Get your tickets here: TICKETS >

Find out more here: Official County Fair Website >

The 97’s have wrapped up their touring for 2015.
I know, HOW CAN THIS BE, RIGHT??!? No New Year’s Eve show?!? No Christmas run in Dallas?!? Ken has hinted there might be a small show near Tyler, but other than that, NADA until Todos Santos, Mexico in January
Commence post-tour depression.
It’s been a fantastic run through the midwest and east coast. I can personally attest to the epic face-melting, Rock God performances in DC, Philly and Cleveland.

King of all of his World. Pre-Time Bomb jump exhuberance courtesy of Vivian Wang

Long-time fan and concert photographer extraordinaire, Vivian Wang shares her thoughts about the DC show here.

Rhett enjoying himself on the 9:30 stage. Courtesy of Vivian Want



Murry at 9:30 Club courtesy of Vivian Wang



another gravity-defying rock jump. courtesy of Vivian Wang

Not being hip-swivel deep in support of any particular album, the setlists have been a satisfying cross-catalogue assortment of old (Jagged, Valentine, Barrier) and new (Give it Time, Nashville, Guadalajara) favorites with a handful of rarities like Old Familiar Steam, Going Going Gone, and a very spirited Bel Air (YESSS!!) as a nod to their former label, Bloodshot Records’ 20th anniversary.

The unmitigated joy of being a rock star. courtesy of Kristie Gripp



Murry doing his thing. courtesy of Kristie Gripp



Whistling Boy courtesy of Kristie Gripp



The Tele Master courtesy of Kristie Gripp




He’s dressed all in… green. courtesy of Kristie Gripp

In addition to the above, the band busted out Rhett’s ode to author Raymond Carver, the rumba rocker What We Talk About on the later part of the tour. What a special treat! The song was first featured at the soundcheck in Cleveland before being included on the show’s setlist. Fantastic!!

Speaking of sound checks, Ken jumped on Periscope, Twitter’s live streaming app. Through Periscope, Ken gave followers a glimpse backstage during soundcheck. He took requests from fans, some of which made their way on to the night’s setlist like Am I Too Late. Sometimes he gave tours of the venue, the city and pulled the curtain back on bus life with a bunch of dudes. Make sure you download Periscope so you don’t miss any of the fun when touring starts again. The videos on Periscope are only available for 24 hours, so set up your alerts!

Soundcheck via Periscope



The requests poured in. Ivy won this draw.



Ken does make it look easy.

And lastly, one of the high points for all involved, especially the 97′s, was when legendary Cheap Trick dummer, Bun E. Carlos joined the guys on stage at the Majestic Theater in Madison, Wisconsin to put his personal stamp on a rowdy cover of Southern Girls. Philip may have to retire his kit now.
Bun E. Carlos on Philip's kit!!

Bun E. Carlos on Philip’s kit!!

Philip with Bun E. Carlos

Philip with Bun E. Carlos


impromptu jump during Southern Girls with Bun E. Carlos on the kit! courtesy of Kristie Gripp

Before embarking on the fall tour, Rhett spoke to Jonathan Dick at Brooklyn Vegan about longevity, technology and songwriting here.
Here’s a fun, informative interview with Jessie Opoien of the Capital Times in Madison with the frontman of our favorite “big, dumb rock band”.
Review, setlist and photos from Thalia Hall in Chicago here.
Rhett performed a five-song set at for the Isthmus Sessions in Madison, Wisconsin prior to the show.
And finally, our friends at Paste Magazine took on the daunting task of choosing 12 best Old 97′s songs. With such a vast oeuvre of incredible songs, who can possibly whittle it down to a mere dozen. It’s a fine list, but no Jagged? No St. Ignatius? No BEL AIR?!? Really? Check it out and let us know which other ones are on your How-Could-He-Leave-Out-This-Song list.
That’s it for now. Keep checking the tour dates for any additional gigs before January. In the meantime, you can catch Rhett play a number of solo shows between now and the end of the year, including Live at Daryl’s House in Pawling, NY; Christmas Extravaganza Trifecta at City Winery, NY, Chicago and Nashville; and the annual CF benefit concert held this year at a new venue, Gas Monkey Bar and Grill.
Hey, and just for grins here’s a Magnet Magazine Classic of Old 97’s circa: Too Far To Care.
But wait, there’s more! Anyone who has had the pleasure to speak with Ken, knows he is a superb storyteller. Recently he was one of the featured storytellers at Oral Fixation in which he tells of his journey from office grunt to rockstar.
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***Many thanks to Kristie Gripp and Vivian Wang for the use of their photos. View all of Kristie’s Old 97’s photos on her flickr page.

Instagram contest

September 17, 2015

We’ve got some cool merch piling up around here, so let’s see what we can do about that, eh? Let’s have a contest! Here’s how it works.

  1. Follow us on Instagram.
  2. Go to an Old 97’s show on the Fall Tour.
  3. Take a picture at the show and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #old97s2015 and tag @old97s in it

Everyone picture posted is an entry into a random drawing. We’ll do one Oct 1 and another Nov 1.

Have fun!

Hey y’all this is Jefe, Old 97’s web guy, breaking the 4th wall for a minute. In case you haven’t heard, I’m spearheading the creation of an album of Old 97’s covers to benefit It’s currently being funded on PledgeMusic and we have to hit 100% in the next 2 months for it to happen.

The minimum pledge is $10 for an Access Pass, which gets you the full digital download when it’s ready, along with access to behind-the-scenes studio info as it happens, and maybe an exclusive track or two as well.

The album is a benefit for charity: water, an amazing non-profit organization that’s working to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. Check them out:

Desperate Times will feature Old 97’s songs performed by some amazing artists, including:

Hayes Carll

Ben Kweller

Polyphonic Spree

Kelly Willis (Rollerskate Skinny!)

Monte Warden (The Wagoneers) & Chip Kinman (Rank & File)


Those Darlins

The Deathray Davies (Valentine!)

Occasional Milkshake

The Travoltas

The O’s

Western Star

…and maybe even more when it’s all said and done. It’s going to be mixed by John Dufhilo and will be ready to press before the end of the year.

We’re currently revealing what songs are being covered one at a time, in posts only visible to pledgers. Number three comes out today.

I hope you’re join us for this very cool project. Please, tell your friends, share on your socials, and check back often as we work to make a difference—and make a really cool album, too.

After lighting up the midwest on a successful short Old 97’s run, Rhett continued his tour in support of his stellar MMU companion solo effort, The Traveler.


Starting briefly in his beloved Texas, the bulk of his latest run was a jaunt from Seattle to Hermosa Beach, accompanied by the lovely, angelic-voiced Annalisa Tornfelt. She joined Rhett on stage for a handful of songs from The Traveler, as well as Old 97’s tunes. Her virtuosity and backing vocals brought to life the tracks from the new album, and added a new layer to old classics.


Along the way, our favorite frontman did a fair number of interviews, radio stops, and podcasts. Here are a few highlights starting with Texas.
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Rhett commandeered the airwaves of Austin’s My KUTX for an hour to share a dozen of his favorite songs.

KXT’s Paul Slavens and Rhett

He stopped by KXT Live Sessions to chat up, reminisce and perform a couple of songs for old friend and Travoltas member, Paul Slavens. Rising star Madison King joined in to sing her sweet duet she wrote with Rhett, Feel Like Falling In Love.
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Madison King and Rhett at KXT

Before heading to the West Coast, Mr. Miller hooked up with The Ticket’s zany morning team, Bob and Dave at Eatzi’s in Grapevine to perpetrate a little BaD shenanigans on unsuspecting female customers. Hilarity ensues. But seriously, what girl WOULDN’T want the lead singer of Old 97’s to make up a song featuring her name, no matter how ridiculous? Zero.
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roaming the market without a hall pass

In Portland, our wordsmith wowed the collective gathered in the intimate studios of Kink FM’s Skype studios with spirited performances of new songs, old songs and insight into his collaboration with local favorites, Black Prairie. Video of the interview and performance are here, here, here, here, here and here.
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Rhett at KINK FM Skype Studios in Portland

In LA, KCSN host Sky Daniels and Rhett discuss all-things The Traveler and then some. Among “then some” is an interesting discussion concerning the Texas meaning of ordering a “coke”. Annalisa Tornfelt joins in on fiddle and backing vocals, kicking it up a notch on Wanderlust.
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with Annalisa Tornfelt (photo courtesy of Laura Smith)

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photo courtesy of Laura Smith

But wait! There’s more…
Despite two glaring mistakes in the headline, Chilled Magazine published a fun interview with Rhett. Curious how he spends downtime, his favorite foods or which libations are stocked in his poolside Tiki bar (he has a Tiki bar??!?), read on.
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How do you feel about Michael Bublé? Do you hate his voice, song-stylings or that stupid accent mark on the é? Well, read why Rhett takes issue with the Canadian crooner in A.V. Club’s Hatesong feature here.
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photo courtesy of Laura Smith

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Jon Neufeld and Rhett

Recorded shortly after The Traveler’s release, Rhett made his home turf one of the first stops on his presser rounds. Here he is at Woodstock Radio.

On a sunny afternoon in the Boston area, Joan Holliday of The River and Mr. Miller discuss Peter Buck, reincarnation and lay bare his psyche on my new favorite game, Either/Or.
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Judy Holliday of the River and Rhett basking in the New England sun

The Master of the Interview, Rhett gets comfortable and opens up to The Alt in Our Stars podcast host, Chris Payne about a number of topics including a tale or two about Third Eye Blind. The entire hour makes for an exceedingly entertaining conversation.
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photo courtesy of Laura Smith

And finally, if you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favor and check out One Week, One Band. Guest author, Daniel Couch wrote an extensive 24-part series of posts mined from multiple sources, including this very website.
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The Hardest Working Rocker in the biz is on a well-deserved family vacation. But never fear, he will be out and about again this week at the sold out Barefoot at the Belmont and a July 4th band gig at the Twilite Lounge. Then our favorite foursome embark on a long-awaited European mini tour.
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photo courtesy of Laura Smith

Thank Jehovah he loves what he does. I think I can safely speak for us all when I say we love what he does, too.
See you on the road!!

We’ll be adding these to the event calendar over the next day or so, but in the meantime here’s a complete list of upcoming shows:

July 9 – Valencia, Spain – LOCO CLUB
July 10 – Riaza, Spain – HUERCASA FESTIVAL
July 12 – London, UK – The Borderline
July 14 – Bilbao, Spain – CAFE ANTZOKIA
July 18 – New Braunfels, TX – WhiteWater Amphitheater

August 8 – San Antonio, TX – Lone Star Beer TX Heritage Series – Lone Star Brewery
August 15 – Houston, TX – Lone Star Beer TX Heritage Series – Silver Street Studios
August 22 – Dallas, TX – Lone Star Beer TX Heritage Series – Gilley’s
August 29 – Austin, TX – Lone Star Beer TX Heritage Series – Fair Market

September 10 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theater
September 11 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
September 12 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory Concert House
September 13 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox
September 14 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
September 16 – Arcata, CA – Humboldt Brews
September 17 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
September 18 – West Hollywood, CA – The Troubadour
September 19 – Del Mar, CA – KAABOO
September 20 – Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
September 21 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
September 23 – Amarillo, TX – Golden Light Cantina
September 24 – Tahlequah, OK – Medicine Stone Festival

October 3 – Dallas, TX – Lake Highlands Oktoberfest
October 15 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West @ King Plow Arts Center
October 16 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
October 17 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
October 19 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
October 20 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl
October 21 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl
October 22 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
October 23 – Ithaca, NY – The Haunt
October 24 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
October 26 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
October 27 – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
October 28 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall
October 29 – St Louis, MO – The Ready Room
October 30 – Little Rock, AR – Revolution Music Room