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Fiona Apple guitarist Blake Mills double-dips with his own music

for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Blake Mills is certainly the hardest working man on Fiona Apple’s current tour.

Mills, 25, not only plays in Apple’s band but is also her opening act, showcasing songs from his debut album, “Break Mirrors.” It makes for a long night, but a satisfying one, he says.

“I’m getting used to it now,” Mills says. “When I was out with Lucinda (Williams) I did something like that, and it’s kind of nice. For one thing, it’s a bit of a warm-up, and, secondly, I can kind of have fun and pick and choose covers and things.

“And getting to play my songs for Fiona’s audience is also kind of spectacular. There are some (venues) that are a little more chatty than others, and there’s always people listening in her audience, so it’s a blast.”

Being a performer in his own right was “never part of the plan” for Mills. He made his name in the background, with a résumé that includes a brief membership in the Simon Dawes band as well as session and backup work for Kid Rock (on the “Born Free” album), Weezer, Danger Mouse, Jackson Browne, Carlene Carter and many others. Mills also produced the latest solo album by Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins, as well as a Fleetwood Mac tribute track by ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons.

“I feel like so far, so good without a plan,” Mills says. “Everything sort of happened all at once, I suppose. I’m not really a front guy — at least I don’t think I am. But I have songs that people that hear them say, ‘Oh, that should be heard. You should go play them.’

“So this is kind of the product of me saying ‘OK’ to everything I can and trying it and adding it to what I do. I’m just trying to continue doing everything; that seems like it has a real personal reward quality to it.”

Blake Mills performs with Fiona Apple on Saturday, July 7, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are 69.50, $39.50 and $29.50. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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