Tomorrow night (Saturday, March 23), local singer-songwriter Chris Milam will be a featured performer on the latest installment of the popular television series The Sun Sessions, which is filmed at the legendary Memphis recording facility Sun Studio and airs on PBS stations across the country. To celebrate, Milam is hosting a watch party at Newby's, where his band will be performing both before and after a public screening of the episode's local premiere at 11 p.m on WKNO-TV (Channel 10).
Milam, who also recently performed at Austin's South By Southwest music festival, spoke to the Flyer this week about The Sun Sessions and more.
Memphis Flyer: How did your appearance on The Sun Sessions come about?
Milam: I entered a singing competition in Tunica, haha. I heard about this contest and thought it could be fun. I was the only one in it playing and singing my own songs, and some folks with The Sun Sessions were judging. That started the relationship, and soon after they asked me to tape an episode.
What was it like taping the episode? Were you nervous?
I was nervous just to be at Sun Studio! I've lived in Memphis almost my whole life and had never been. It's such holy ground to me - I always stayed away, thinking I'd sully it somehow. So, just being there was a big deal, much less for a TV appearance. I was nervous the few hours before we hit record. But as soon as the band started, it was a blast. The crew did a great job of making everything relaxed and easy.
How do you feel about the prospect of watching yourself on TV in a public setting?
I'm excited about it. I still haven't seen the show, so I'll be watching it for the first time with everyone. I rest easier knowing how great the crew is, and how much I love my band. If it's good, it's because of them, and I'll enjoy it along with everyone. And if it's bad, it's on me, and I'll laugh at myself with everyone. Either way it'll be entertaining.
You performed at South By Southwest last week - what was that like for you?
It was really great. Honestly, I'd heard so many mixed things - I didn't know what to expect. But it turned out well. I saw a lot of bands I love, saw a lot of friends, made some new ones. I showcased on Saturday, so I kinda couldn't relax til the very end. But the show itself was fun. My highlight of the week was Billy Bragg. Caught him at his last show of SXSW, and he was phenomenal. Just loose and hilarious and memorable.
Is there anything else you are working on right now?
I released something in 2010, 2011, and 2012, so I'll probably take this year off. 2013 will be heavy on touring and writing new stuff. There are a lot of new songs I'm excited about sharing. Been listening to a lot of Van Morrison, Damien Rice, Glen Hansard - all those great Irish balladeers. Inspired by that stuff right now.
But since I'm touring a lot this spring and summer, this might be my only Memphis show for a while. I'd love to see everyone come out. I miss home.
Chris Milam's The Sun Sessions Watch Party
Saturday, March 23, 9 p.m.
$5 cover, 18+