In the Studio with The Old 97's

Miller explains the guitar part of a new song to Tommy Stinson (center).
Miller explains the guitar part of a new song to Tommy Stinson (center).
Jeff Scroggins

The Old 97's are among the finest exports of Dallas' music scene — their 1997 album Too Far To Care, in particular, is an alt-country classic.

But the band isn't resting on the past. They were doing preproduction work for their next album at Pleasantry Lane Studios in Dallas. The guys had spent the week working with producer Salim Nourallah recording demos of new songs to be considered for their upcoming project.

Frontman Rhett Miller arrived late to the studio wearing a splint and sling on his right arm. The previous night he missed the corner of the bed, fell onto his right elbow and wound up in the emergency room with excruciating pain and explicit instructions not to use his arm. Not exactly the stuff rock 'n' roll legends are made of.


The Old 97's

For a while, the band worked in the studio without Miller's guitar. A couple hours in, a group of people arrived at the studio. Included in that group were Jason Garner (Polyphonic Spree), other well-connected members of the Dallas music scene and Tommy Stinson of Guns N' Roses and The Replacements.

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Stinson and Miller have been friends since they played a benefit together in New York a few years ago. Stinson wanted to hear the new Old 97's demos and was excited to hang out. Miller was itching to play music with everyone, so Stinson grabbed a guitar and an impromptu jam session started with the Old 97's and Tommy Stinson. They didn't get through two songs before Miller'd had enough. He picked up his guitar and was determined to play. Excruciating pain or not, he was going to play.

The day came and went and who knows what will end up on the record. But rock 'n' roll royalty is not restricted to Los Angeles, London or New York. Legends are made here in North Texas, too, and, at least in the case of the Old 97's, they aren't going anywhere soon.

Rhett Miller
Jeff Scroggins

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