Chris Milam
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Chris Milam

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Solo Pop Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Modern Memphis Musicians"

When it comes to Memphis music, everybody knows Elvis, Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes. And of course we can’t forget about Justin Timberlake (or JT, as he’s known around here). But, if you’re looking to fill your collection with lesser-known Memphis musicians, check out these awesome artists.

Amy LaVere
Amy strummed her signature upright bass while honing her unique blend of folksy rock in some of the best clubs and bars in Memphis. Her latest album, Runaway’s Diary, was recorded right here in the Bluff City at Music+Arts Studio and features songs like “Rabbit,” “Snowflake,” and “I’ll Be Home Soon.” Amy tours nationwide, but when she’s in Memphis, you can find her at the Levitt Shell and Mollie Fontaine Lounge.

Hope Clayburn & The Soul Scrimmage
Hope punctuates her soulful funk music by riffing on her saxophone. She has even been known to play two at one time. The music is high-energy, powerful and unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Hope Clayburn & The Soul Scrimmage can be heard laying down their singular sounds at the Cove on Broad Avenue.

Star & Micey
Named one of Paste Magazine’s “12 Tennessee Bands You Must Listen To Now,” Star & Micey’s music is a mix country, rock and bluegrass. They’ve recorded and released several songs through Memphis’ Ardent label and have built a huge following of diehard fans. When Star & Micey aren’t touring, you can hear them at the Levitt Shell, Minglewood Hall and the Hi-Tone Cafe.

Valerie June
Like many singers before her, Valerie began developing as a performer in the church. Her music fuses many different genres - soul, folk, country and blues. Valerie describes it as “Organic Roots Moonshine Music,” and once you hear her unique, mellow voice, you’ll be humming along. Popular hits include, “Twined and Twisted,” “You Can’t Be Told,” and “Workin’ Woman Blues.” Valerie has performed on the David Letterman Show, NPR: Tiny Desk Concerts, and she was featured on the MTV show $5 Cover. Though this Memphis girl is currently calling New York home, you can still feel the Memphis influence in her lyrics and melodies.

Will Tucker
Will Tucker doesn’t look like your typical blues musician, but this local musician has been playing regularly at B.B. King’s Blues Club for over five years – not too bad for a kid who can’t even legally buy a beer yet. Will is one of the top performers in Memphis, and has been honored as one of the city’s top performers by the Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Flyer. Catch Will Tucker and his band every Friday and Saturday night at B.B. King’s and be on the lookout for his upcoming album, Worth the Gamble.

Chris Milam
After spending two years playing in clubs in Nashville and New York City, Chris returned to his hometown of Memphis to make his home base. Just listen to a few seconds of his classic rock sound, and you’ll see why this traveling musician was named one of the Memphis Flyer’s Top 20 Under 30 in 2013. Chris travels all over the country, but he’s also doing a special set of concerts throughout the city as part of his 901 series. - Memphis Travel

"The Music Enthusiast Show Preview"

Also on the bill is Chris Milam, who has about ten years experience as a musician under his belt. During that time, he’s released a couple LP’s and a few EP’s, all while keeping a full touring schedule that saw him doing a hundred plus shows both in 2010 and 2011. The road has led him from his hometown of Memphis, to New York and back again, amassing fans all along the way while he was honing his artistic abilities. His latest effort, “Young Avenue”, features a collection of tracks that embody a deep storyteller element, and in listening to the songs from it, you get a sense of who Chris is as a person.
(Listen to “Any Day Now”.) - The Music Enthusiast

"Memphis Music Heritage"

"...It was only a few days ago that I started to explore these questions. Sitting in the front
row of a small concert, listening to the incredibly emotional and sophisticated lyrics of local
musician Chris Milam, I felt a close connection to Memphis music. Milam did not sound like
Stokes or any successful Memphis musician in the late half of the 20th however, his music
was packed with Memphis heritage and appreciation. This must be the style that Stokes truly
left behind for Memphians to enjoy in the future. The guitar blues style is still very prevalent
in Memphis, but it is not necessary to sound like a Memphis musician. Surely this century's
lyrics, infused with emotion and wit, will endure any future changes in Memphis style. Words are unfortunately limited, and unable to provide due credit to every musician involved in the rise of Memphis music throughout the 1920s and1930s. It was the movement in its entirety that encouraged Memphis to become a music city. There is a distinct sound to Memphis music, but it is not confined to a single style. Memphis guitar blues is an incredible sound, and countless musicians will be influenced by this style for years to come. We look forward to exploring the next decades in Memphis music, hopefully to find more answers to explain the unique complexity of Memphis musicians and their styles." - The Grind Memphis

"Milam's Memphis Sound"

On February 21st, Chris Milam kicked off his 901 Series at Winter Arts in Germantown. It was a concert experience unlike any I have been to before. The evening was low key, and celebrated local music and art in a very cool way.

Winter Arts is a clean and classic venue. Hardwood floors, white walls, and bright lighting made it the perfect space for an intimate concert. The event was hosted by the Artworks Foundation.

Artwork by local artists, Xander Batey and Hope Hudson, was posted on the walls including sketches, paintings, and drawings which were up for sale. A cartoonish crescent moon was hanging directly behind Milam during the performance, which he later explained was a gift given to him by local artist, Amy Hartelust as a reference to the countless times he has used the word “moon” in his lyrics.

Members of the audience were invited to make themselves at home. While some settled into the chairs that were arranged in front of the small stage, others set up lawn chairs and utilized coolers in the back to keep their wine and beer cold during the show.

Milam is a poet. He writes all of his own music and his lyrics will bring you back to your hometown, first love, first car, high school, best friends, and above all else, your home. “I’m fifty miles from Memphis and no closer to you,” he crooned during a duet with fellow local artist, Myla Smith.

Milam was determined to cater to his fan base in multiple areas in Memphis. While the first show was in Germantown, Milam will hit Midtown and Downtown as well before the end of the 901 Series. He was joined by several family members, friends, and even teachers who had him as a student at Houston High School and came out to support him. “The roads to these songs are the roads just outside these doors,” he observed before beginning to play.

Milam’s demeanor when he took the stage was as casual as they come. He walked out of the side door wearing skinny jeans, black converse, and a checkered button down. With his signature slicked back hair and acoustic guitar, it was like there was no audience. He was all about the music and nothing else.

“I’m going to play a set. And then there will be an intermission….and then I’ll play another set,” he explained simply with a smile.

Milam didn’t let distractions get in the way. At one point, he pulled out a harmonica and when it wasn’t cooperating on the attachment he had, he dropped it on the floor and continued. The audience laughed but I don’t think he did it for comedic relief. He did it because it was interfering with his mission to showcase his work in a no-fuss manner that the audience could connect with. Milam's dedication to making the evening about creating a one-of-a-kind musical experience for the audience and sharing his stories with us was original and extremely refreshing.

If you missed out on the first event, Milam’s coming to Midtown and Downtown! His next show is on May 9th Downtown. - The Grind Memphis

"Featured Artist: Chris Milam"

Chris Milam puts his heart and soul into his music whether he is performing for a large crowd, or touring with his trusted bandmate (and car), Ruby. After many chapters in his life, and numerous cities, Milam has chosen to pursue his love for performing in Memphis, TN, the city he calls home.

Milam’s interest in music started at a young age. He performed his first concert when he was four
years old with entirely Fisher Price instruments and started to play the piano at age six. After playing in
“a million (of) crappy bands in middle and high school”, he said with a laugh, Milam continued to pursue
his love for music throughout college at Vanderbilt University, where he earned a degree in English.

Milam decided to move his life from Memphis in order to get away from the familiar. While in school,
he continued to play music at different gigs around Nashville, TN. Milam claims, “Nashville was never
a fit for me” and that he couldn’t wait to graduate and see where his music career could take him.

After spending seven years in Nashville, Milam gave the Big Apple a shot. The experience allowed
him to gain inspiration from “a melting pot” of unique and talented musicians. After a year and a half,
Milam realized that although he loved New York, Memphis was calling him back. “The industry has come, gone and made comebacks, but the talent remains the same,” Milam reflects on Memphis.

Milam writes all of his own music. His sound is a mix of pop and folk and puts emphasis on the message in his songs. His most recent album, Young Avenue, is inspired by Memphis. Milam explains, “the musical roots in Memphis and the character of the city serves as inspiration in itself”. His album is a personal memoir about being young and inspired listeners to ponder if you can ever really leave home.

When asked what inspires him Milam responded, “just about everything these days”. His modesty was demonstrated when he was asked what his biggest musical accomplishment was and he responded that he takes more pride in the small instances of recognition rather than the bigger experiences. "There’s one song I’m particularly proud of, and that’s ‘Cold Weather Girls’”.

If you want to hear more from Chris Milam, and are looking for a unique concert experience,check out his 901 concert series. Milam will be traveling around Memphis in order to bring the concert to all of his fans. A series of six shows will take place in Germantown, Downtown, Midtown, East Memphis, Cordova/Bartlett and a Christmas show at the end of the year. Each concert will take place at a non-traditional venue. - The Grind Memphis

"Singer's Parents Live Here, But He Just Passes Through"

Singer-songwriter Chris Milam is around central Arkansas a lot, but he has never lived here.

His parents, Robert and Mary Lou Entzminger, however, are a different story.

“My folks moved there in 2003, when I went off to college,” says Milam, who grew up in Memphis and then headed east for college at Vanderbilt in Nashville, where he studied music and English literature. “They live in Conway, where my dad is [provost] at Hendrix [College], and mom drives to Little Rock, where she’s [head of the upper school] at the Episcopal Collegiate School.”

Milam calls Memphis home again, after post-college stints in Nashville before going off to take a bite out of the Big Apple. He returned to Memphis in 2012.

“I wanted a cheaper home base, since I’m on the road quite a bit,” he says.

Milam reckons he has performed from 15 to 20 times in Little Rock, at clubs that include Juanita’s, Stickyz and the White Water Tavern, but he will be doing his first show in Hot Springs tonight at Maxine’s. He has usually had a band along in the past, but his shows this weekend will be solo. He has five recordings so far, after debuting with Leaving Tennessee, which he then did. His most recent, Young Avenue, came out last fall, and has earned him comparisons with Ryan Adams and Van Morrison.

Young Avenue is a five song EP, and Milam says it includes his best-known song, “Shine.” He had recorded it on an earlier album, Tin Angel, but reworked it last fall.

“Folks seem to like that song,” he says. “I always try to do that one, and my other originals, throwing in a selected cover now and then.”

The albums of his youth that influence him, he admits, include records by Matthew Sweet (Girlfriend), The Gin Blossoms (New Miserable Experience), R.E.M. (Automatic for the People) and Counting Crows (August and Everything After). In one of his latest musical adventures, he was invited to take part in making a recording as part of a new series for PBS, The Sun Sessions, which leads into Austin City Limits in some markets, but has yet to air in Arkansas.

“I got to go into Sun studios in Memphis in March and record some original songs,” he says. “That was the first time I had ever set foot in there, even though I’d grown up in Memphis, so it was a real treat to get to do that. My folks are big Elvis [Presley] fans, so I had heard all about the place, but until you’re in the place, you don’t get a sense of it all, and how you can just feel its history.”

One of Milam’s latest songs, “Dark in the Garden,” is on Young Avenue and a compilation, The 15th Annual Memphis Film Festival: Lust, along with 20 other Memphis artists, including Lucero, Susan Marshall, The Bar-Kays, John Paul Keith, Amy LaVere, Harlan T. Bobo and The Memphis Dawls.

Chris Milam

8 p.m. today, Maxine’s, 700 Central Ave., Hot Springs

Admission: Free (501) 321-0909

Headliner: Chris Duarte Opening acts: Chris Milam Steve Hester & Deja VooDoo, Davis Coen 9 p.m. Saturday, Juanita’s, 614 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock Admission: $12 advance, $15 day of show (501) 372-1228 - Arkansas Online

"Chris Milam Asks "Can You Go Home Again?""

Chris Milam, a singer-songwriter from Memphis, will be making his Richmond debut, at Globe Hopper Coffee (2100 E. Main St.) on Monday 7/22 at 6pm. You will want to come out and see for yourself why Milam has been compared to Paul Simon by the musical press from Nashville to New York City.

The following interview was conducted via e-mail.

ACG: Chris, the last time I saw you was on a very warm September day, in 2011 I believe, while you were on a marathon busking session in front of a large Memphis mural. How long did you stay out there playing?

Chris Milam: Ha! I remember that day--still the longest concert I've played. I think the final count was 6.5 hours. I know it had gotten dark and my fingers were bleeding. I was delirious, I probably would've kept going until I dropped. My brother was like my fight coach--he threw in the towel for me. But we ended up raising some money for what became Young Avenue, so it was well worth it.

ACG: You will be appearing in Richmond on July 22 at Glove Hopper Coffee, will this be your first appearance in Richmond?

CM: It will--I'm Excited! I'm always passing through on my way to a DC show [and} I've got some good friends in Richmond and I hear y'all have a very active, supportive arts scene. This is long overdue, and I'm looking forward to it.

ACG: Your first disc, Leaving Tennessee (2005) and your EP Tin Angel (2008), made an impression on Nashville's Music Row. But instead of taking a job at one of the publishing houses you headed to the East Village in NYC, why?

CM: It was kind of a professional choice of head vs heart: I was being steered toward the songwriting world, and it's a tempting world. You're making a living. You're living in Nashville. You're still working in music. At the time, it felt like safer route. Ultimately, I just felt in my heart I had to tell my own story as an artist. It was a bet on myself.

ACG: Having grown up in Memphis and attending Vanderbilt it seems the title Leaving Tennessee was meant to be prophetic.

CM: True! I love Tennessee and I'm back home now for a reason. But growing up here, I always looked for the off-ramp. I've got wanderlust. I'm restless. Now I think I've found a better balance: I'm at home in Memphis some of the year, and get to scratch that itch on tour the rest of the year. I'll always be bit of daydreamer, though. I always want to see what's behind Door #2.

ACG: Did the comparisons to Paul Simon start in Nashville or NYC?

CM: Nashville, but they picked up in NYC. In Nashville, I think it was more a vocal comparison than anything. By the time I moved to NYC, I had finished Up, and that was the record that really generated all the comparisons. [It's] a pretty hushed, lyrical, acoustic record, the way so many early Paul Simon recors are. NYC is no stranger to Paul Simon. They jumped on it.

ACG: That comparison hasn't died out; what type of pressure does that place on you as songwriter?

CM: None. If I get a nice review or a flattering comparison, that's icing on the cake. I just take that as complient and move on. But I can't let it dictate what I'm creating.

I don't mean to come off cool. I feel pressure, but it's all pressure I'm putting on myself. I'm my harshest critic. By the time I like one of my songs, I believe in it, no matter who it reminds people of.

ACG: With your touring schedule it seems you spend about a third of the year on the road, how does that affect your songwriting?

CM: I actually did the math: the more shows I play in a year the more songs I write. Which feels strange, since I never write while I'm actually on the road. But it's a very generative, inspiring thing for me.

I could talk about this all day, but just take one aspect of it: memory. What did I do April 11? No clue. What did I do March 11? I played in New Orleans en route to SXSW. I remember the drive through Mississippi to New Orleans. I remember the place near the venue I stretched my legs and got a beer. I remember almost bumping into a kid on the street and what he said to me. I remember my set list, how the show went, what the guy on the couch near the stage looked like. I remember where I slept that night and what was on TV in the background.

It triggers experience, it sharpens memory. Everything is heightended. The say write what you now well, you know what you retain. Tours' [have] a ton of very vivid memories.

ACG: Your last two releases, The single "Never in Love" b/w "Always in Love" (2011) and the five song EP Young Ave. (2012) were both recorded in Memphis. Each produced by what would seem to be two very different producers in Jeff Powell (Afghan Wigs/Lucero) and Kevin Cubbins (NPR syndicated blues show Beale St. Caravan). How did that work out?

CM: Like everything, it came down to timing and budget. "Never in - Area Code Greetings

"Singer Has Local Ties, But Is Only Passing Through"

Singer-songwriter Chris Milam is around central Arkansas a lot, but he has never lived here.

His parents, Robert and Mary Lou Entzminger, however, are a different story.

“My folks moved there in 2003, when I went off to college,” says Milam, who grew up in Memphis and then headed east for college at Vanderbilt in Nashville, where he studied music and English literature. “They live in Conway, where my dad is [provost] at Hendrix [College], and mom drives to Little Rock, where she’s [head of the upper school] at the Episcopal Collegiate School.”

Milam calls Memphis home again, after post-college stints in Nashville before going off to take a bite out of the Big Apple. He returned to Memphis in 2012.

“I wanted a cheaper home base, since I’m on the road quite a bit,” he says.

Milam reckons he has performed from 15 to 20 times in Little Rock, at clubs that include Juanita’s, Stickyz and the White Water Tavern, but he will be doing his first show in Hot Springs tonight at Maxine’s. He has usually had a band along in the past, but his shows this weekend will be solo. He has five recordings so far, after debuting with Leaving Tennessee, which he then did. His most recent, Young Avenue, came out last fall, and has earned him comparisons with Ryan Adams and Van Morrison.

Young Avenue is a five song EP, and Milam says it includes his best-known song, “Shine.” He had recorded it on an earlier album, Tin Angel, but reworked it last fall.

“Folks seem to like that song,” he says. “I always try to do that one, and my other originals, throwing in a selected cover now and then.”

The albums of his youth that influence him, he admits, include records by Matthew Sweet (Girlfriend), The Gin Blossoms (New Miserable Experience), R.E.M. (Automatic for the People) and Counting Crows (August and Everything After). In one of his latest musical adventures, he was invited to take part in making a recording as part of a new series for PBS, The Sun Sessions, which leads into Austin City Limits in some markets, but has yet to air in Arkansas.

“I got to go into Sun studios in Memphis in March and record some original songs,” he says. “That was the first time I had ever set foot in there, even though I’d grown up in Memphis, so it was a real treat to get to do that. My folks are big Elvis [Presley] fans, so I had heard all about the place, but until you’re in the place, you don’t get a sense of it all, and how you can just feel its history.”

One of Milam’s latest songs, “Dark in the Garden,” is on Young Avenue and a compilation, The 15th Annual Memphis Film Festival: Lust, along with 20 other Memphis artists, including Lucero, Susan Marshall, The Bar-Kays, John Paul Keith, Amy LaVere, Harlan T. Bobo and The Memphis Dawls.

Chris Milam

8 p.m. today, Maxine’s, 700 Central Ave., Hot Springs

Admission: Free (501) 321-0909

Headliner: Chris Duarte Opening acts: Chris Milam Steve Hester & Deja VooDoo, Davis Coen 9 p.m. Saturday, Juanita’s, 614 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock Admission: $12 advance, $15 day of show (501) 372-1228

Weekend, Pages 36 on 05/16/2013

Print Headline: Singer’s parents live here, but he just passes through - Arkansas Democrat Gazette

"Local Artist Draws Inspiration From Memphis"

Few people are lucky enough to discover their passion, something that makes them truly feel alive, and those who do often lack the courage to pursue it. Chris Milam is the rare exception.

For years, he told people he would become a lawyer. He interned with a law firm and even took the LSAT, but there was a constant whisper inside of him urging him to follow his dream.

“My earliest memories involve music. My parents always had it on around the house,” Milam said.

Milam’s mother still has a crayon-colored playbill she received as a birthday present from four-year-old Milam from when he and his brother performed the entire Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” or at least their rendition of it.

Chasing his dreams has paid off. Milam gets to spend his days doing what he loves: writing, recording and playing music.

“The reason I’ve always been attracted to music is that it has been the one thing that made me feel like I wasn’t alone,” Milam said. “It is a way to share feelings. Not only can I express how I feel as an artist, but I can also relay that to others and have a shared experience.”
Milam and his band will play at Newby’s on S. Highland St. the next two Monday nights, Feb. 11 and 18. The event will be accompanied by a Beer Bust where attendees can drink all the Ghost River they want for $10.
“Newby’s is always a good place to play,” said Seth Hendricks, guitar player for Milam’s band and former University of Memphis student.

For Newby’s, the feeling is mutual.

“He and the rest of his band members are real nice guys,” said Jason Rasmussen, audio engineer for Newby’s. “They are laid back, easygoing and a real pleasure to work with.”
Milam stepped foot in Memphis’ legendary Sun Studio for the first time last September. He and his band recorded a live session at Sun Studio for the PBS series “Sun Studio Sessions”.

“Sun Studio is famous because of Memphis musicians, so it is great to have a modern Memphis musician on the show,” said Jayne Brooks, public relations director for the studio.

The nationally broadcast show will begin airing sometime in February. The episode in which Milam is featured will air in late March. He is excited, to say the least, and is already planning a viewing party at a venue in Memphis.

Milam will spend three weeks traveling to Austin to attend the South by Southwest conferences and festivals in March.

“I hope that the Sun Sessions viewing party, March 23 or 30, will be a great homecoming show after a long road-stint,” Milam said.

Milam is no stranger to road trips. He typically spends 100 days out of the year on the road.

Milam’s humility came to light when discussing his recent appearance in the Memphis Flyer’s 20<30 issue.

“The best part was being in the same room with all of those incredible people. It was really encouraging and exciting to meet people that are … doing great things around the city,” he said. “It is a really positive thing, and it lifts your spirits.”
The city of Memphis continues to be a muse for Milam.

“Memphis is always inspiring to me. I feel like if you spend a day in Memphis, and you don’t have anything to write about, then you aren’t paying attention,” he said.

Milam finds inspiration in the contrasts and juxtapositions that pepper the city’s streets.

“Memphis is quirky, weird, complicated, dark, dirty, diverse — it has wealth right next to poverty, white right next to black — to me there is beauty in that,” he said. - Daily Helmsman

"Memphis Music Hall Of Fame Featured Artist: Chris Milam"

Chris Milam has more stories than songs. Of course, he’s not running short on those, either. And for every city, every stage , every hotel desk clerk he flirts with to get a few extra free muffins for the long drive back to Memphis, every pang of homesick or moment of road weary, there’ll be another song. And at least a dozen more stories.

But the one thing that remains the same through all of them, the one central character and unwavering motif, is the music. And like the stories of so much good music, this one starts in Memphis.

A lefty, Chris taught himself to play guitar by watching his brother, memorizing the shapes of his hands in different chords and flipping them upside down. Not long after, in high school, he started crafting songs. But it was in college that Chris did what maybe we’re all supposed to do in those four years: reach some level of self-actualization. Left entirely to his own devices, the only thing he wanted to do was write and play music. “I found myself telling people I was going to law school,” he says. “I’d told people that since the sixth grade, for some reaosn. I took the LSAT. I was looking at schools. And at some point everyone around me was like, ‘Who are you kidding? You’re not gonna do that.’ They were right.”

So, in December 2004, Chris became a full-time musician. He was gigging five or six nights a week in Nashville – at open mics, bars, on campus, at coffee houses – and writing the songs for what would become his debut album, Leaving Tennessee. He released it in the spring of 2005 to a burgeoning fan base and critical acclaim, and like a good southern gentleman, stayed true to his word – he left Tennessee. He spent two years on the road, booking his own tours coast-to-coast. He charmed audiences with his banter and his music: melodies both familiar and foreign, all at once. It’s thoughtful, carefully constructed pop – the kind of songs that make one edge of your mouth curl up when you realize you and the singer are both in on the secret.

Soon enough the Nashville music industry seemed to figure out what they were missing – prompted by multiple interested publishing companies, Chris released Tin Angel in 2008, a pop songwriting showcase EP. It wasn’t long before he found himself weighing offers and contemplating a future as a Nashville songwriter. It was a certain future, but he wasn’t certain it was for him.

“I love writing songs. I was struggling to get by. I had to think about it – do I take what might be the safer, more certain path, or do I keep taking a chance on myself as an artist? And for me, personally – I just knew I wouldn’t be satisfied unless I continued to perform, to tour, to grow as an artist, writing and singing my own music..”

In February of 2009 he went to Arkansas, where he did nothing but write songs, secluded, every day for eight weeks. In April, he returned to Nashville with a mountain of new material and plans: plans to make an album, to move to New York, to go all in. His demos caught the ear of producer Steve Martin. Together they crafted the full-length Up, a musical thesis of sorts: mature, lyrical, expertly written.

Then came New York. And the East Village. And a lifestyle that invigorated his songwriting – unlike many of his peers who lost their art behind desks and retail counters, Chris spent all day watching the clock, impatient to get back to his guitar. He spent his nights at legendary spots like The Bitter End, where his songwriting heroes had played their first gigs decades earlier. But despite all the growing he did there, in Manhattan, Chris was stuck. What he wanted to do was hit the road – play for a different crowd every night. To do that, he needed a home base. So he picked the best one he knew: his hometown.

Since then, he’s been working on more stories, and his most recent release is full of them. Young Avenue is record about intersections, about places between – somewhere between summer and fall, somewhere between graduation and the 10-year reunion, somewhere between adolescence and growing up. Chris and Young Avenue will be featured on the acclaimed PBS series The Sun Sessions later this season. - Memphis Music Hall Of Fame

"Memphis Music Foundation Helps Local Musicians"

As a youngster, Memphian Chris Milam meandered his way across a lyrical landscape, pounding away at piano lessons here, plodding through chords on a bass guitar there.

But for the most part, Milam's musical interludes were more perfunctory than passionate.

Until he picked up his brother's acoustic guitar.

"It was like everything changed. I found an instrument that spoke to me," the 28-year-old singer/songwriter said recently upon returning to the Bluff City after a gig in Nashville. "I played bass in a lot of really horrible middle school bands, just fooling around because it was kinda cool, but when I started playing acoustic it was different. I discovered something that I really wanted to do."

And he wanted to do it in Memphis.

After performing in coffee houses, lounges and small clubs in Nashville while earning an undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University, Milam moved to New York City to hone his craft. And while the Big Apple offered a wide variety of listeners and venues, Milam eventually decided that his hometown offered the perfect home base for pursuing a career in music.

And the Memphis Music Foundation helped.

As part of its annual Memphis Means Music Month campaign, the MMF is working to elevate its profile in the local music community and encourage artists to take advantage of its services.

"There's remarkable diversity in the music business in Memphis, with artists in just about every genre and companies that specialize in all facets of the industry," said Pat Mitchell Worley, director of development and communications for the MMF. "About the only thing I'm unaware of is a Polka scene, but if there's one here then we'd love to know about it. The music industry is very much alive in Memphis."

Of course there are the oft-played legacies of Elvis Presley and Isaac Hayes, Sun Studio and Stax Records, and Shelby County native Justin Timberlake continues to build a fortune through music, film and business endeavors. But making it as a musician in Memphis typically doesn't translate into world renown.

Still, there's a living to be made here for musicians all over the scale and the nonprofit MMF, which bills itself as an economic development organization that aims to equip artists with the tools and training to become entrepreneurs and make money by making music. Most of its programs are free and more than 2,500 musicians are members.

The group's flagship program is the Memphis Resource Center, which provides free access to computers, industry literature, meeting spaces and career guidance services.

Milam encourages his musician friends to take advantage of the offerings.

"Most of us, we get the artistic side. That's why we're musicians to begin with, because we love to perform and we want to create music," Milam said. "But a lot of musicians don't know anything about the business side of the industry. You've got to think of yourself as a small business and treat your career with that same kind of professionalism if you want it to last."

Alicja Trout, 41, agrees.

For Trout, whose family moved from Baltimore to Memphis when she was eight, the Bluff City is home. And despite sojourns elsewhere — a brief residency in New Orleans and a touring schedule that occasionally takes her outside the city — Memphis is where she wants to make music.

"I chose a path when I was in my 20s and it was a Memphis path, a more underground, independent music niche sound as opposed to a New York or L.A. sound," Trout said. "There's a low cost of living here, the local press is really great for bands and the Memphis Music Foundation offers good support. It's easy to be part of the music scene here."

But being part of the scene doesn't necessarily translate into financial security for local musicians, Trout added. While making a living locally as a full-time musician is doable, Trout supplements her performance paychecks with work as a property manager and as a music teacher.

Beyond that she schedules regular tours across and outside the country and she advises up-and-coming artists to do the same.

"I think it's important, especially when you're just starting out, to book shows out of town. It gives you a different perspective and helps you connect with a wider audience," Trout said. "Some bands will play gigs every week or two here and never go outside Memphis and that can lead to burnout after a few years. I think there's a great value, particularly when you're young, of going out and sleeping on friends' couches in different cities and finding your path. Then when you find it, stick to it."

Helping musicians discern those paths and develop successful careers means lots of behind-the-scenes work said Memphis Resource Center director Cameron Mann. Whether it's hosting a seminar on how to break into the music publishing industry, providing financial literacy training or even assisting artists in recovering royalties, Mann's team addresses myriad needs.

"We may h - Commercial Appeal

"TVD Recommends: Chris Milam"

Although he’d probably tell you a great story of touring rather than rock your face off, Chris Milam is definitely the guy for overt romanticism in all things tangible.

Milam’s love for our fair city was created through the tried and true package of a singer and his six-string and manifested in his most recent release the Young Avenue EP. Tonight, he’ll be dishing out a fresh serving of the EP at the launch show at The Hi-Tone Cafe.

The singer/songwriter started his musical journey in Memphis but has spent extended stays in locales that are heavy on music culture. From Nashville up to New York, this travelling salesman of the heart has covered the country spreading his endearing and heartfelt perspective on what love and life are, and what they ought to be, since 2004. His most recent effort is an adventure into introversion, a new undertaking for the pop crooner.

Milam elaborates,

As my career’s gone on, my songs get more and more personal. When I started out, I had a hard time talking about myself. My first impulse was to write about someone else, tell someone else’s story. It was a fear of rejection; I assumed if I wrote from my heart and folks didn’t like the song, then they also didn’t like me. My story hit too close to home. But this record is close to home—literally and figuratively. It’s about home. It’s about Memphis as a place to grow up, a place to leave, and a place to come home to. It’s by far the most autobiographical record I’ve done. For better or worse, it’s me. And it’s funny: playing these songs out, I’ve found those fears were unfounded. It seems like the more you share with the audience, the more they embrace you. It’s exciting.

Tonight marks the release of his most recent EP, a full excursion into Chris’s warm compositions and hearty sentiments towards the bluff city.

Memphis in late summer, early fall. Growing up here, out in the suburbs, it’s a very evocative time and place. Those are some of my strongest—and fondest—memories. I still drive aimlessly out there when I need to clear my head and feel reconnected to something. I’ll put on old ’90s staples: R.E.M., Gin Blossoms, a thousand others, and it puts me at ease. So, it’s really a combination of then and now. The record’s heart lives then: adolescence, riding around the suburbs listening to 96X, rolling someone’s house, nightswimming, thinking about a girl, getting frozen custard, etc. But its perspective lives now: moving away, becoming a singer/songwriter, touring 100+ days a year, finding new paths and new relationships, then coming back home. The whole record asks that question: can you go home again? I think I’m still trying to answer that, haha.

Milam won’t perform alone. The talented 90's throwback alt-rock of The Near Reaches will also be featured. J.D. Reager, Jason Pulley, Jack Alberson, and Eric Wilson recently released the Near Reaches self-titled debut that boasts great music worth showing up for and thusly purchasing on vinyl!

Not only will the Near Reaches play, but you’ll also get a great performance from the Al Gamble/Mark Edgar Stuart/Kait Lawson trio. The trio of musicians garner comparable yet incredibly varied sounds, making sure your night will be full of guitarry bliss and good stories through gorgeous songs and fantastic musicianship. - The Vinyl District

"Chris Milam Debuts Young Avenue"

Since 2004, Chris Milam has lived the life of the itinerant musician, playing more than a hundred dates a year, traveling, in the words of his song "Any Day Now," "From California/To Carolina/Surfing couches/And chasing gold." But, right now, Milam's thoughts aren't of the road. He is anxious for people to hear his new EP, Young Avenue.

"I'm just chomping at the bit," Milam says. "I'm very happy with it. I'm really proud of it. And I am thrilled with the job that everybody did on it."

The five songs, which were written over the course of a year, mark a significant transition for Milam, from solo singer-songwriter to bandleader. "I was doing a lot of stuff solo acoustic, and I guess it was folky. But now, I'm playing with a full band, and things are a little more rock leaning," he says.

Milam refuses both the folk and rock labels. "I consider myself a pop singer," he says. "In my mind, pop's not a dirty word. When I say pop, I'm thinking music from generations past — melody-based music." His musical imagination is firmly rooted in the music he grew up listening to: Simon & Garfunkel, Motown, Stax, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan.

Young Avenue features an all-star Memphis lineup, including bass ace Mark Stuart, Kevin Cubbins (who also produced) on guitar, Chris Thomasmeyer on drums, vocal support from the Memphis Dawls, and Al Gamble on keys.

"I love coming in with a song thought out and executing it. That's a great feeling," Milam says.

"But the best feeling in the studio is when I come in with an idea of how it's going to be, and we get started, and somebody else has a better idea, and we let the song grow. There's nothing like getting a really talented group of musicians in a room and just letting them go."

Chris Milam's Young Avenue record-release party will be Friday, September 21st, at the Hi-Tone Café. Mark Stuart, Al Gamble, Kait Lawson, and the Near Reaches open. Doors open at 9 p.m. $5. - Memphis Flyer

"Chris Milam Offers Up His Mom's Cookies In Pledge Campaign"

Tab_widthChris Milam

Chris Milam has more than enough songs in his arsenal to release his upcoming five-song EP and likely another dozen. His primary concern might be making certain his mom can keep up with cookie orders as one Pledge exclusive fans can partake in for the singer-songwriter’s current campaign. As popular as fan support has been for a release he’s tentatively calling Young Avenue, the entire family will stay busy fulfilling Pledge requests.

You mention having a lot of songs in your Pledge campaign vid for the new EP, but how many finished pieces do you have to work with?

Many! The number of unreleased songs, total, is probably 70-80. The number of those that might play out is near 25-35. And the number of those that might go on a record is about 15-20. This EP will feature five of those songs that worked best together. But yeah, there are always more songs!

Do you already have the songs picked out or is that part of the work ahead?

I have the songs picked out. It’ll be a five-song EP, and we’ve already finished recording. We’re mixing this week, mastering soon after. It’s gone great! We’re ahead of schedule for the September 25 release date.

Have you found any particular themes emerging from recent seasons of songwriting?

Definitely. Lyrically, I’m writing more about my experience as a touring artist; many songs grapple with what it means to leave home, and then come back again. Musically, playing with my new band has me writing more with rhythm in mind. I want everything to have a strong pulse. I used to start a song with the guitar; lately, I’m thinking of drums first.

So you choose PledgeMusic to partner with fans for the EP release. Why make that choice?

The artist/fan relationship has changed. My fans are as much collaborators as they are supporters. They’re engaged, they’re enthusiastic, and they’re smarter than I am. For example, I leave one spot on a set list open for a Twitter request. Someone in a different city requests the song, I play it, record it, and post the video 24 hours later. If I have some extra money for new merchandise, I simply ask Facebook fans what they’d buy, and I get 30 comments in a few hours: koozies. Got it!

I knew my fans would jump on Pledge, because they’re engaged already. It’s not so much about being active as interactive. They’re not just hearing a record. They’re involved in its creation. They have a stake in it, and they should.

By the way, I noticed you volunteered your mom’s cookies. Was she aware of this at the time you offered them up?

No! I totally sold her out. Luckily, she thought it was funny. She bakes cookies for my friends often – four or five batches at a time. The minute I posted the exclusive, she probably had someone’s cookies baking in the oven. She’s got a budding enterprise whether she wants it or not!

In just a couple of weeks, the project was at 100 percent. How was that feeling of knowing you’d reached your mark?

It’s incredible. I can’t thank everyone enough. I knew we’d get some pledges, but I had no idea what to expect. I was shocked by how quickly we raised that much. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s humbling, and then it’s inspiring. It pushed me even harder. I didn’t want to let anyone down.

What do you focus on with any extra support that come in?

All kinds of things. CD and possibly vinyl replication. Merchandising. Photography and graphic design. Press for the EP before and after its release. So much goes into making a record beyond just recording the songs. I’m very thankful for the extra support so far!

Anything else you want Pledge readers to know?

Keep pushing! Even though the songs are recorded, we’ve still got a long way to go to get the EP mixed, mastered, printed, replicated, distributed, and promoted. I’m forever grateful for the support so far, and hope to keep it going. Every $10 goes a long way!

The release date is September 25. I think it’ll be called Young Avenue. And it’s 100% yours. Thank you! - Pledge Music

"Solo Act Chris Milam Strikes Up the Band"

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, Leaving Tennessee, a 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 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 Tin Angel.

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 Up, 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 Up, 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 Never In Love, 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 m - Commercial Appeal

"Chris Milam: Local Record Reviews"

Local singer-songwriter Chris Milam debuted this double-sided single, his fourth official release, as a digital download last week. The A-side, "Never in Love," features contributions from a slew of well-known local musicians, including Jeremy Stanfill, Star & Micey's Josh Cosby and Geoff Smith, and the City Champs' Al Gamble. But, for my taste, the song is a bit too by-the-numbers, easygoing, folk-rock-sounding (aka the dreaded Jack Johnson comparison) ... which is what makes the stunning B-side such an absolute sucker-punch.

"Always in Love" is stripped down and gorgeous, featuring essentially only Milam's voice, his guitar, and a few sparse piano tinklings here and there. The song is heartfelt and memorable — it reminds me of some of Cory Branan's best moments. I find myself listening to it over and over. - Memphis Flyer

"Chris Milam Releases New Single"

Emerging local singer-songwriter Chris Milam officially releases his new double-sided single - "Never In Love"/"Always In Love" - today via Amazon, Itunes, and all the usual digital music retailers. The record features several noteworthy local musicians playing behind the earnest pop strains of Milam, including Jeremy Stanfill, Star & Micey's Josh Cosby and Geoff Smith, Susan Marshall, Dave Cousar, and The City Champs' Al Gamble, and also boasts excellent production from Ardent's Jeff Powell.

Milam, a native Memphian who recently returned to the city after starting his music career in Nashville and New York City, spoke to the Flyer this week about the new record, his busy tour schedule, and more.

Flyer: First off, what brought you back to Memphis?

Milam: Once the touring schedule ramped up I wanted a less expensive home-base. And, of course, I can't think of a better place to call home than Memphis.

How did you get started in music?

I played my first "show" when I was five, banging on some Fisher-Price drum kit accompanying Sgt Pepper. So I guess it was always there. It was a pretty normal progression - played in church first, then high school bands, then studied music in college and started playing out regularly, then took the plunge after graduation. I consider myself really lucky to have grown up in Memphis. It's a special place to grow up loving music - you can get an education without even trying.

What was the recording process like for your new single?

Honestly, recording at Ardent was a longtime dream of mine. I'm a huge fan of the records that have come out of there, and always wanted to record at Ardent. When Jeff and I talked about working together, I thought the timing was right. It was an awesome, surreal experience working with those musicians in that room. I can't wait to do it again.

Are you happy with the finished product?

I'm really excited about it. I wanted to write two songs as companion pieces - I'd never done that before. They have a lot in common, they're kind of two sides of the same coin. I thought the challenge in the studio would be to make them each work independent of each other, but also to highlight the things they had in common. I'm thrilled with the way both songs came out. Everybody in the studio brought their own indispensable piece to each songs. All the great performances, all the happy surprises - they all added up to something I'm proud of. I can't wait to share them with everyone.

Are you satisfied with being a solo artist/performer, or would you rather have a band?

It depends on the songs I'm singing. I played with a band in Nashville after the first two records. Then, Up was more stripped down, so it worked to tour solo. Now, I'm itching to get a band together again. The new songs have a fuller sound, and I miss the energy of playing with other musicians. I'm in the market! Know anyone?

I understand you're on the road a lot.

Yeah, I've stayed busy, thankfully! I love the road. I was gone about six weeks in the spring, mostly around the west coast and midwest. This summer I circled the south. I was gone all of September, mostly east coast. And the rest of the fall (November and December) I'll be in the midwest or the southeast. And, of course, I'm always playing around Memphis when I'm back home. I'd really love to get to the U.K. soon. I've never performed there, and I hear the crowds are awesome.

So, which is it - are you never in love, or always in love?

Ha! Can't say. Ask me again in an hour. - Memphis Flyer

"Chris Milam To Play Rockwood Music Hall"

Milam is a former New Yorker who moved back to his birthplace of Memphis but made sure to take some big city spunk along with him for the road. He just finished working on a double-sided single entitled Never In Love and is working on a full length album for 2012. Milam’s witty lyrics and acoustic prowess have garnered him a ridiculous number of Paul Simon comparisons from fans and critics. His charm and warmth lead to a great live show, and Milam is sure to make this homecoming a memorable one! - Bowery Boogie

"The Warm Up with Chris Milam"

Chris Milam doesn’t like Kickstarter – too passive he says. So instead, he has decided to stage his very own fundraiser to raise money to record a new album. He’ll be playing from 4 until 10PM TODAY in front of the I Love Memphis Mural in Cooper-Young. If you are a fan of TVD, you might have already come to know Milam from his excellent Another Cup of Coffee series of interviews. If you are not reading his blog or following on Twitter – you are missing out!

Take a listen to some new songs he’s been working on and then if you’re a local, go give him some love tonight. He told us to tell you to bring beer. (And if you don’t live in Memphis, you can donate on Milam’s website! - The Vinyl District

"Ardent Presents Chris Milam"

Chris Milam is not only a gifted singer/songwriter, he is also a fantastic writer and contributor to this site. You can also find him all over the interweb on Twitter, Facebook, and the Youtubes. Check out his upcoming tour dates on You can purchase his music iTunes, Amazon and CDbaby. - The Vinyl District

"Live From Memphis Album Review: Chris Milam Up"

Memphis native Chris Milam grew up as the son of a college professor and a teacher of Greek drama. As one could imagine, his family environment contributed to his unconventional career path. As Milam writes on his website, “I was doomed from the beginning. Banking wasn’t an option, I can’t even add."

Link for more... - Live From Memphis

"Chris Milam releases Tin Angel, rocks 12th & Porter to celebrate"

Currently based in Nashville, Chris Milam is a young southpaw from Memphis who has just released his second record entitled Tin Angel. Saturday night (October 11) Milam and his outstanding band put on an impressive performance to celebrate the release.

Milam's got the Memphis blues in his blood, but his music resists stereotypes. For one thing, it's not his guitar-playing that's the focus—he's got one hell of a blues guitarist behind him for that. Rather, Milam writes rock/pop songs that focus the spotlight on his vocals which, again bucking stereotypes, are as white as snow. The odd pairing of blues with lilly white vocals may seem an unlikely strategy for success in the business of rock 'n' roll, but when it works the combination is reminiscent of Paul Simon's solo efforts. Milam's youthful appearance, boyish charm, solid vocals, and stellar backing band all make for an impressive live show that will continue to win over audiences. The Tin Angel EP, however, does not capture Milam's boyish charm, which is disarmingly appealing in his live shows.

I've got a feeling about this kid. While there's certainly room for growth as a songwriter, he's heading in the right direction. —Vincent Wynne - Listen! Nashville

"Chris Milam's Leaving Tennessee"

So after a long hiatus filled with house guests, insanity and tequila, I sat down to review the albums that seems to building up from inattention here at HCT HQ. [I am taking time off from the same, PLUS there's my busy scifi-viewing schedule which is too copious for me to insert mean remarks here.—Mimi]

At the top of my stack is Chris Milam’s Leaving Tennessee which I’ve been meaning to review since he came and did a podcast with us a while back.

I find myself in hard position writing this review. See, being in Nashville means I get to hear a lot more from musicians than just what they have released. Chris is one of those musicians that’s close enough for me to stalk and follow closely live and as a person. Chris is good enough that I do exactly that.

For one, he’s an exceptional songwriter. There are a lot of songwriters here, since it’s Nashville and all. I could go hear half a dozen of them nearly every night if I devoted myself to nothing but songwriting rounds in Nashvegas. But I don’t, I sit around and listen to a handful of what works for me, a small handful that includes Chris Milam. There is a compelling immediacy to Chris’s lyrics. Whether he’s writing about love and loss or politics, he crawls through blues, rock, country, folk and pop with definite impact. His skill as a songwriter surpasses many artists twice his age.

On “Whenever it Rains,” Chris sings of being haunted by a girl now gone, though I hear underneath that the changed season here in Tennessee, the cold, autumn comes through. The song carries the same melancholy as a season that’s left the warm blanket of summer behind. It’s more a slow pop song than anything else on the album, but it doesn’t suffer because of that.

“On a Wire” and “Ain’t the Way” almost seem to channel love songs of the 50s or early 60s. There’s a slow melodic tempo to these that sends you back to times past, if you’re my age, times you don’t even remember but still carry a strange fondness for. “On a Wire” has a roughness to the lyrics that fill in images of sweet-voiced boys in white t-shirts, with cigarettes rolled up in their sleeves. Especially when Chris sings, Well, the stars are out, but they don’t look bright/ Let’s drink some gasoline, maybe start a fire/Let’s park the old Supreme, maybe start a fight. “Ain’t the Way” is a little sweeter, lighter and sadder, painting a picture of a girl I always imagine with hair sprayed up, long skirt swinging around her calves as she looks sadly on at the singer, stirring something in him that he longs for but can’t quite define.

The stand-out lyrically on Leaving Tennessee is “Lisa, My Dear (I Look Better Alone).” The production on this song isn’t quite as heavy as it is on some of the other songs allowing the strength of the words shine through. There’s such a loneliness here–the protagonist sends the object of the some away, saying he looks better alone, until it finally comes through that really he thinks she’s better off without him. I don’t know if it’s autumn being the season of melancholy or something else, but I really feel a sharp ache whenever I listen to this.

“Memphis Queen” stacks Memphis girls up against girls from other places. It’s a great song, definitely the most radio friendly of the bunch, and here I mean that as a compliment rather than an insult. If Chris chose to be a pop singer, he could use this as a launching pad and send himself out into the ether of popular music with songs like this one.

But like I said I’m in a unique position here in Tennessee. I’ve heard the songs not on this album and I know first hand that those are what Chris should be showcasing. He’s growing exponentially as a writer. Moving into more folk and blues. He really is at his best with just him and his guitar, allowing an audience to not only focus on the incredible lyrics, but to really feel the emotion and passion beneath them.

Some of his new songs, like “Talking Divinity Blues” veer into the political without being heavy-handed or trite. There’s a level of writing here that’s both more subtle and more detailed than the songs on Leaving Tennessee.

Chris is touring this winter, showcasing his new writing. I’ll be seeing him as often as I can and you should too. I’ll post dates as they come up or keep an eye on his site for news.

In case you missed the podcast, or care more about songs than us HCT girls chattering at musicians, here’s a few songs Chris recently recorded (right click and ’save as’ to download). It’s a zipped file that includes mp3s of “A Song I Used to Know,” “Maria, Maria,” an acoustic version of “Memphis Queen” and “Talking Divinity Blues.” You can hear these alongside the album and get the best idea of the range of stuff Chris is doing, from the almost pop country of the album to the folky strains he produces when it’s just him alone without the band behind him.

Leaving Tennesssee is available on iTunes and our beloved CD Baby. - Hardcore Troubadours

"Chris Milam: American Songwriter Writer of the Week"

After the success of 2008’s EP Tin Angel, singer/songwriter Chris Milam was receiving praise and industry attention in Nashville, but still felt something was missing. After a winter of soul-searching and a move to New York City, Milam is back with a new album titled Up. American Songwriter had a chance to speak with him about the new sound on the record, as well as his life-changing move to the Big Apple. (Be sure to check out Chris’s profile on American Songspace.)

Growing up the son of a professor, what drew you to music? Were there any experiences early on when you realized music was your passion?

In a way, it was my parents. Dad’s an English professor and Mom teaches the humanities. They aren’t musicians, but they’re great fans of music. Literature and music were big dinner table topics. I was lucky, it was cool to love the arts in our house. I was also unlucky: I was pre-destined to be bad at math.

So, music was always around. Dad liked the old singer/songwriters: Dylan, Willie, George Jones, Gram Parsons, etc; Mom loved 60’s pop: Beatles, Beach Boys, Motown, Stax, etc. My brother and I gave impromptu Beatles concerts. Somewhere, there’s a picture of me at age 5 playing a Fisher-Price guitar along to “Ticket To Ride.”

In high school, I overheard some guys say they needed a bass player for their band. I got a left-handed bass and started learning Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. Of course, they never formed the band, but I rushed out and learned bass because I was so desperate to play music. Later, I stole my brother’s right-handed guitar and learned some chords upside-down. I did everything I could to be a musician. Or imitate one.

You’ve been compared to Simon and Garfunkel, among others. Would you say that the singer-songwriters of the 60’s and 70’s are some major influences in your work?

Definitely, this album in particular owes itself to that era. Simon and Garfunkel packaged lyrically-intensive songs with these gorgeous pop melodies; they helped bring poetry into pop music. That was a major influence on Up.

I’ve always admired how different their songs are, but how unified their albums feel. They put a folk song like “Kathy’s Song” next to an R&B tune like “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me” and it still sounds cohesive. It still makes sense. That’s something I’ve tried to do, too.

I also admire their use of black turtlenecks. That’s something I’m incorporating into the next album.

Considering the industry attention in Nashville you were receiving for your songwriting, what was the deciding factor that led you to New York City? Was there a defining moment for you when you just knew New York was where you had to be?

It was basically the decision of what kind of career I wanted. Nashville’s an amazing town for songwriters, but writing country songs just isn’t my passion.

There was a real turning point in fall 2008. I came to New York to play a record release show for the Tin Angel EP. Something just clicked that trip: other artists I met, the new fans and friends at the show, the whole atmosphere of the place. I was drawing inspiration from everything, writing songs a mile-a-minute—just feeling revitalized as an artist. I knew it was the right place for me and the kind of music I wanted to make.

Your new album Up was created in a few short weeks here in Nashville using very little instrumentation. Is this raw, organic style of yours a trademark?

It’s certainly a trademark of this album. The two before it were very different records, but this group of songs is the most intimate, narrative, and deeply personal I’ve written. When Steve and I talked about Up, we knew it needed to be a stripped-down production to match that intimacy. It’s basically an acoustic record, but every song has at least one more instrument. I joked with Steve: “I don’t want it naked; just kind of undressed.”

So, we recorded much of it live because I wanted the listener to feel like they’re in the room with me. I wanted the vulnerability and intimacy of these songs to really come across. So, you can hear the occasional chair-creaking, or tongue-clicking. It was more about capturing a moment than “producing” an album.

In that way, it feels similar to recent albums by artists I admire: Josh Ritter, Bon Iver, the Monsters of Folk, etc.

You worked with producer Steve Martin on your newest album Up, a very bare bones album. How was your experience working with him in the studio?

Steve’s a rising star in Nashville, and someone I’ve known for a while. I’ve always appreciated his talents as a sound guy, grower-of-beards, and scarf-enthusiast.

When I gave him the demos of these songs, he said, “Don’t worry about time, don’t worry about money…we have to make this album.” Steve’s one of the few producers who wants to understand the song before he ever considers recording it. He simply gets it.

We worked really quickly, and we played every part ourselves. Even though we didn’t - American Songwriter

"Chris Milam Speaks!"

I scribed a little on aspiring young, country/folk artist Chris Millam the other day. His track ‘Coldweather Girls’ is quite remiscent of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘America’ in the simple structure, occasionally whispering voice and dialogue in the lyrics. He has kindly taken five minutes from promoting his new album Up’ to answer a few questions, though I suppose this would be considered promotion so he hasn’t really. Still it’s the thought that counts…….Thank you Chris.

M – What was the first record you ever bought?

CM – Green Day’s Dookie.

M – Why?

CM – It was the first I wanted a CD that my older brother didn’t want. Before that, he’d buy something (R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Radiohead, etc.) I liked anyway, and we’d share. Then, Dookie hit my middle school. He was a big, bad high schooler and was far too mature to buy an album named after poo. So, I had to buy it myself. Of course, he loves Green Day now, and got me 21st Century Breakdown for my birthday. The lesson: maybe 6th graders know something 10th graders don’t?

M – Would you say the US country / western scene has changed much over the past decade?

CM – Hard to say, because it’s a world of music that hasn’t influenced my own too much. But, living in Nashville for several years, I did see some changes. There’s definitely a split between the pop country of music row and the alt-country/Americana artists that are all around town. I wouldn’t say one’s good or bad–they’re just doing different things. There are a ton of great, independent artists in Nashville that are doing something different than the country norm, and fully deserve a big audience.

M – If so, which artists have shaped this shift?

CM – Of popular artists, the wave of roots-influenced music from the last decade continues to influence folks: Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams, Wilco, Son Volt, Old Crow Medicine Show, the Avett Brothers, etc. Again, I’m largely talking out of my butt; an alt-country artist could list 100 names.

M – Which artists would you say have held influence on you and your work?

CM – The new album (Up) was mostly influenced by artists from the 60’s; Simon & Garfunkel, for example. They packaged lyrically-intensive songs with these gorgeous melodies; that’s what I wanted to do with this record. Some others: Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon’s solo work (I cover “The Boy In the Bubble”), Tom Petty, Elliot Smith, Josh Ritter. Motown. The Beatles. Raphael Saadiq. The usual.

M – What is the most nervous / disastrous performance you’ve had?

CM – I came out of the womb a polished performer and savvy showbiz veteran; I have no idea what these words even mean.

Truthfully, it was probably my first performance. I sat in on a songwriters-in-the-round set, and they let me play one song. I sang the first line and suddenly forgot everything else. I couldn’t remember a thing. Instead of bowing out gracefully, apologizing, and sprinting to my car, I launched into a medley of “Free Ride,” “Slow Ride,” and Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me.”

I’d call its reception “mixed.”

M – At present, to you who are the most interesting artists in world?

CM – I’m a fan of pop music–that’s what I write, and listen to, and am most influenced by. So I’m interested in anything that can broaden the definition of pop, and artists that incite new trends with every release. Artists like Radiohead and Outkast alter the landscape every time they release an album. My Morning Jacket. I’m always excited to see what Jack White will do next. I know frat guys that love MGMT, which is a testament to their pop sensibility underneath all that great sonic weirdness. I’m interested in artists that can make someone like a song they wouldn’t expect to like.

Of singer/songwriters, I’m turned on by anyone who says something I haven’t heard before: Josh Ritter, Cory Branan, Amy LaVere, to name a few. They’re amazing songwriters who continue to surprise me.

And, finally, Justin Timberlake.

M – Do you have any plans to play the UK in the future?

CM – I do! Tentatively, this summer. We’re working out the details, but yes–hopefully sooner rather than later. I can’t wait to get to the UK. Great fans of music over there.

M – In a perfect world whom would you like to work with (alive or dead) and why?

CM – Many of the same heroes I listed above, with some consideration for who would be fun to work with.

Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Michael Stipe, Jack White. Eddie Vedder, because no band has (or probably will) mean more to me than Pearl Jam did in my teenage years. Chris Bell from Big Star, and Gram Parsons, are two favorites that I wish I could meet. I wouldn’t want to work with Kurt Cobain, but I’d love to meet him. I’ll include Bono, because if I’m working with Bono in any capacity, I’m probably about to buy a Bentley or attend a G8 summit.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to once again thank Mr Milam for taking the time to talk to us. Cheer - Mewbox

"Chris Milam's wit, wisdom take music in a new direction"

On any night in Nashville, there are countless guys with guitars trying to make it. Music City resident Chris Milam has been in the crowd. He knows “that guy,” and he earnestly does not want to be “that guy.”

“As soon as somebody gets up, a solo acoustic guy with a guitar, I automatically go, ‘Oh no, here we go,’ ” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of bad diary entries and stripped-down emo and bad, melodramatic, cheap sentiments, and I’ve heard it before.

“So I know from a crowd’s perspective what that feels like. The best thing I can do is, from early on, say, ‘Don’t expect that.’ We’re going in a different direction.”

Milam looks the part of a starving artist trying new ideas. Down South they might call him bean-pole thin. His sly, boyish face makes the young performer look like he might need a chaperone on tour. On the road, though, it’s just Milam and his guitar, and they are both backing up his talk.

The Memphis native plays modern folk and what he calls “lyrically intense blues.” His honest delivery, accompanied by enough wit to keep the audience alert, is engaging, and people are listening.

“The cool thing,” Milam said, “is how many people have been accepting of that. Hopefully, people are interested in hearing something new.”

When Milam talks about something new, he is talking about his own voice. “I don’t see anyone other than OutKast or Radiohead that’s reinventing the musical wheel,” he said. “But I think I can say something different.”

On Milam’s debut album, 2005’s “Leaving Tennessee,” he sang about searching for love, losing it and maybe finding a silver lining in an otherwise cloudy sky. Since then, he has branched out. But he continues to turn a phrase on end with lethal precision. His lines can sneak up on a listener like a grin on a Cheshire cat’s face.

“I would listen to a piece of music (but) there’s nothing out that’s giving me that feeling (of) ‘He is talking about exactly where I’m coming from.’ At some point, I started writing those songs myself. Hopefully then, somebody else out there will listen to it and say, ‘That’s where I’m coming from. I haven’t heard anybody put it like that before.’” - Chattanooga Times Free Press


2005 - Leaving Tennessee

One of this generations most promising young songwriters. --Vanderbilt Hustler

2008 - Tin Angel (EP)

Expertly-crafted...a fresh new voice. --Music City Unsigned

"There is a compelling immediacy to Chriss lyrics. Whether hes writing about love and loss or politics, he crawls through blues, rock, country, folk and pop with definite impact. His skill as a songwriter surpasses many artists twice his age."  --Hardcore Troubadours

2010 - Up

Invites--and earns--the Paul Simon comparisons. --American Songwriter

"His charm and warmth lead to a great live show..." --Bowery Boogie

2011 - Never In Love (Single) absolute sucker-punch...reminiscent of Cory Branans best moments. --Memphis Flyer

2012 - Young Avenue (EP)

You leave with the feeling youve known Chris and his songs your whole life. --Kevin Cubbins, producer

"Chris is a rising star in the Memphis scene and we were excited to get him. He's one to watch for sure." --Jeff Davidson, producer, Sun Sessions on PBS

An endearing and heartfelt perspective on love and life. --The Vinyl District



Chris Milams story isnt one of the wandering troubadour; its a story of an artist finding his way home.

Lets start in the middle. While studying music and English lit at Vanderbilt, Milam took his self-described songwriting major to the stage. Gigging heavily in Nashville, Milams ear for melody and gift for storytelling quickly earned a collegiate fanbase and critical acclaim for his debut album (Leaving Tennessee). Two years of regional touring and a breezily-catchy EP (Tin Angel) caught the attention of Music Row and its many publishing houses.

After weighing his options, Milam decided to follow his own path. Armed with no connections, one bag, and a guitar, he moved to New York Citys East Village. It was there he made an artistic breakthrough; 2009s Up garnered a rabid NYC fanbase and enough Paul Simon comparisons to fill a Paste issue. Though finding success on the island, Milam knew it was only part of the puzzle: he needed to hit the road. Again.

So he did. Over a hundred dates in 2010; 150 in 2011. Somehow, he found time to record Never In Love in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee with Jeff Powell (Afghan Wigs, Lucero, Cory Branan). Once there, he found what hed been missing all along: a home.

In 2012, he moved home to Memphis and recorded his latest EP, Young Avenue. The record is inspired by Memphis as a place to grow up, as a place to leave, and a place to find what youve been looking for all along. It tells a story--Chriss story--as only an artist with his songwriting gifts and experience can. It exists somewhere between late summer and early fall; between Ryan Adams and Van Morrison; between adolescence and adulthood. It sounds new and familiar at once.

Its the sound of coming home again.

Caitlin Rose, Cory Branan, Mat Kearney, Josiah Rosen (Augustana), Jody Stephens (Big Star), Drew Holcomb, Star & Micey, Amanda Shires, Susan Marshall, Jackie Greene, Phil Lee, Jack Oblivian, and more.

Band Members