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A little bit country, a little bit rock

Old 97’s kicked off a brand new worldwide tour for their fall-released “Grand Theatre Volume 1,” in Oxford, Miss., at the beginning of December before winding their way north.

Old 97’s kicked off a brand new worldwide tour for their fall-released “Grand Theatre Volume 1,” in Oxford, Miss., at the beginning of December before winding their way north. Singer and guitarist Rhett Miller spoke with us from a hotel corridor in Arkansas, the morning after the debut gig.

“It was a nice warm-up,” the 40-year-old Texan declares while trying to find a quiet spot to chat. “We don’t really rehearse, so the first dates of a tour tend to be rehearsal gigs. It went remarkably well.”

Miller, who splits his time between a solo career and Old 97’s, his longtime band, says it’s hard to second-guess an audience’s reaction.

Old 97’s rockabilly influenced, rootsy rock has always fallen through the crack between country and rock, so they just do what they do.

“I don’t know why, but the Old 97’s are sometimes appreciated in places where the rural, rootsy element of our music is more of an oddity. We’re playing in Nashville tomorrow night — but for years, we couldn’t get arrested in Nashville. I think that’s because if there’s anything country about our band at all, then the cool rock kids didn’t want to go, because of the taint of country. The country folks didn’t want to go because they just didn’t get us, because we were too much like The Ramones.”

Old 97’s
Tonight and tomorrow, 9 p.m.
Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St.
$25, 212-533-2111
www.boweryballroom.com

 
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