Old 97’s happily revisit ‘Too Far to Care’ 

click to enlarge Busy guy: Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller, center, is playing from his new solo recording and celebrating the 15-year mark of his band’s definitive “Too Far to Care.” - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Busy guy: Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller, center, is playing from his new solo recording and celebrating the 15-year mark of his band’s definitive “Too Far to Care.”

Rhett Miller has a lot going on these days. He just issued his fifth solo album, “The Dreamer,” and has two recent CDs with his alt-country combo The Old 97’s, “The Grand Theatre,” Volumes 1 and 2. He also is hard at work on his first novel, plus another new fascination — putting together his first regular podcast. There’s one other little thing: the “Too Far to Care” tour, in which his band is celebrating the definitive masterpiece’s 15th anniversary by playing it live, note for note. “I’ll be addressing ‘The Dreamer’ in a solo set that will open the show, before Those Darlins play,” the Texas-bred tunesmith says, urging fans to get to the Fillmore early this Sunday.

As if “Too Far to Care” wasn’t perfect already, there’s a new extended version with great bonus tracks such as “Beer Cans,” “Holy Cross” and “Northern Line” in both CD and vinyl, right? Yeah. We just recorded a bunch of extra stuff, and for some reason it always seemed like it was important. And I really love our “Northern Line” cover — it’s originally by Opal. “Beer Cans” is by Homer Henderson, this crazy one-man band from Dallas, but “Holy Cross” is mine, though. And it’s my mom’s favorite song. I can’t believe we left it off the record.

Why celebrate “Too Far” at the 15-year mark? Well, it’s funny — our friend Kevin, who’s also our booking agent, had the idea because he loves the record so much. He said “20 years is a long time. Why don’t we do a 15th anniversary celebration of that album?” It made sense, it felt right. And Tom DeSavia, our old A&R guy at Elektra, put this whole (reissue) together. I’ve always kept a lot of recordings, but he went through hundreds of hours of stuff. He’s a great archivist.

What was going on in your life back then? We had just done a solid year of touring for “Wreck Your Life” [the 97’s sophomore CD, also available in bonus-track edition], and we were living hand-to-mouth and sleeping on people’s floors. It was awesome. And we were also coming off our South By Southwest appearance, which started the bidding war (Elektra won). We just felt free and confident, like the world was whatever we wanted it to be.

You had a brash lyrical swagger then, too, right? Right. I’m a harsher critic now. I don’t let myself be quite as silly. But that record does capture a bit of lightning in a bottle. And best of all? The track listing on it is like a perfect set list!

IF YOU GO

The Old 97’s

With Those Darlins and Rhett Miller

Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.

When:
8 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $38.50

Contact:
(415) 346-6000; www.livenation.com

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Tom Lanham

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