Old 97s play The Fillmore on Saturday

The last time they blasted through S.F., Rhett Miller’s tangy twangsmiths Old 97s played a strange gig indeed, appearing free at Justin Herman Plaza on behalf of the Texas Tourism Board.

“It was just to promote visiting the state, even moving there,” says the singer, still baffled over the offer. “But the board asked us if we would be the face of this series, ambassadors of the state. Which was fine by me. In fact, I got so excited that I wrote a song that’s on our new record called ‘A State Of Texas.’”

Said album — “The Grand Theatre Volume 1” — is out now on New West, and the 97s are back in town this Saturday, playing a proper crowd-pleasing gig at The Fillmore (www.livenation.com).

The group also has a great four-track covers EP out, “Mimeograph,” wherein Miller faced up to the daunting challenge of learning every mumble/garbled lyric of The Rolling Stones’ indecipherable “Rocks Off,” plus easier standards like R.E.M.’s “Driver 8.”

Keep up with these cowpokes at old97s.com.

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