Margo Price

The Haw River Ballroom Presents

Margo Price

Johnny Fritz

Fri, March 3, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Haw River Ballroom

Saxapahaw, NC

$16.00 - $18.00

Margo Price
Margo Price
First impressions matter. Especially on a debut album. Time and attention-strapped listeners size up an artist within a song or two, then move on or delve in further. Fortunately, it only takes Margo Price about twenty-eight seconds to convince you that you're hearing the arrival of a singular new talent. “Hands of Time,” the opener on Midwest Farmer's Daughter (coming Spring 2016, Third Man Records), is an invitation, a mission statement and a starkly poetic summary of the 32-year old singer's life, all in one knockout, self-penned punch. Easing in over a groove of sidestick, bass and atmospheric guitar, Price sings, “When I rolled out of town on the unpaved road, I was fifty-seven dollars from bein' broke . . .” It has the feel of the first line of a great novel or opening scene in a classic film. There's an expectancy, a brewing excitement. And as the song builds, strings rising around her, Price recalls hardships and heartaches – the loss of her family's farm, the death of her child, problems with men and the bottle. There is no self-pity or over-emoting. Her voice has that alluring mix of vulnerability and resilience that was once the province of Loretta and Dolly. It is a tour-de-force performance that is vivid, deeply moving and all true.

From the honky tonk comeuppance of “About To Find Out,” to the rockabilly-charged “This Town Gets Around” to the weekend twang of “Hurtin' (On The Bottle)”, Price adds fresh twists to classic Nashville country, with a sound that could’ve made hits in any decade. Meanwhile, the hard-hitting blues grooves of “Four Years of Chances” and “Tennessee Song” push the boundaries further west to Memphis (the album was recorded at the legendary Sun Studio).

Price grew up in Aledo, Illinois (pop. 3,612), and after dropping out of college, she moved to Nashville in 2003. She soon met bass player – and future husband – Jeremy Ivey, and formed a band called Buffalo Clover. They self-released three records and built a local following, but it was personal tragedy that brought Price’s calling into even sharper focus. “I lost my firstborn son to a heart ailment,” Price says, “and I was really down and depressed. I was drinking too much. I was definitely lost. I did some things that I regret very much now that resulted in a brush with the law. Thank god I had my friends and family to keep me going. Coming through that, I thought, 'I'm just going to write music that I want to hear.' It was a big turning point.”

A year before, she had visited Sun Studio as a tourist. “The first time I walked in the room, the guide said, 'This is where Elvis stood.' They have the X on the floor, and she said, 'It's rumored that Bob Dylan came in and kissed the X on the floor.' So I waited for everybody to leave, then I got down on my knees, and thought, 'There, now I've kissed both Bob Dylan and Elvis.” Price and her band worked the night shift, from 7pm-2am (after the museum had closed), cutting tracks live to analog tape. “It was cool to do later sessions,” she says. “It's like doing shows, where you're singing at 11 o'clock. My voice was already warmed up. It was such a relaxed vibe at Sun. And it felt haunted in a good way, like Elvis and Johnny were watching over us.”

After recording the recording sessions, Price shopped the album to a number of Nashville labels, and reached another critical career moment when a friend brought up Third Man Records and told her, “You're on Jack's radar, he wants to hear the record.” Price says, “I sent it over, and it just felt like home. A good creative space to be involved in, and everyone is so down to earth. It was awesome when I met with Jack. He told me he thought my voice was a breath of fresh air, and that he loved the record.”

As Price looks ahead to a busy 2016, full of touring and promoting Midwest Farmer's Daughter, she reflects on her hopes for what listeners might get from these songs. “I hope that the record helps people get through hard times or depression. That's ultimately what music did for me in my childhood, and especially in my early adult years. It's about being able to connect personally with a song, and hopefully, it makes you feel not so lonely.”
Johnny Fritz
Johnny Fritz
Jonny Fritz is back- with a new album, a new hip, and a new homebase in Los Angeles, California. When last we met our hero, Jonny had just wrapped up the purgative classic, Dad Country, his call to the rising generation for a renewed lyricism in country music, recorded in Jackson Browne's personal recording studio and released by ATO records. Now in his newest, Sweet Creep, the lyricism returns, but with a wide hopeful grin. Recorded in Jim James' makeshift hilltop studio in Montecito Heights, where golden twilight fills up thirsty grass valleys, Sweet Creep reverberates with the same feeling of sunny new vistas. From the empathetic "Are You Thirsty?" to the summer-crushy "Humidifier," Sweet Creep is a freshly-signed lease on life, with the movers downstairs waiting by the truck.

For the couple years prior, Jonny hobbled around the globe on a hip fractured in an ill-advised marathon run. He bounced between Malibu, New Delhi, Houston, Australia, Montana, Tokyo, Mount Hood, London then back again, looking for the right landing for the album, to no avail. He jumped from town to town and house and house, unpacking and packing up, with characteristic restlessness-until one day, the pieces all snapped together. A doctor looks up from the x-ray and wisely says "son, you need hip surgery." Jonny finally buckles down in Los Angeles to make music and leatherwork because, as he puts it, "Nashville had gotten too LA for me." And then with some welcome advice from Jim James, Jonny throws himself into Sweet Creep by stripping things down to the essentials. He gathered up the crew-Nashville's Joshua Hedley and Dawes' Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith-and literally recorded the whole album outdoors, in three days, underneath a tent purchased at Home Depot, with half the equipment "borrowed" from Guitar Center. The fresh air, freedom from studio pressures, and strong cups of tea all mix into the music, with ATVs briefly heard in the background and two senior tortoises listening at Hedley's feet as he fiddles away. If as John Hartford tells us, "style comes from limitation," Jonny credits Jim James for much of the pared-down and uninhibited sound of Sweet Creep. James encouraged the first takes, the simpler set-up, the outdoors, and the worry-free flow that coasts us from the first to the last of the record.

Born in Montana and raised in Esmont, Virginia, Jonny has passed weeks in nearly every city in the United States, and plenty others overseas, cramming ten lives into one, and half his possessions into the garages of friends and well-wishers. But despite the vitalism and exploits he's gained a name for, most of his music comes from the smaller moments. He takes a weird little piece of life, unnoticed by most, then steeps it in song until it's ready for vinyl. The overlooked sorrows of a fellow party goer. The real tedium and pains-in-the-ass of touring life, rather than the mystique. An old residential hotel, once hidden back, but whose uncurtained windows now tell human stories to the drivers-by on a newly built highway. An impromptu songwriting session with a friend's four-year old daughter that includes the line "I burped in my pants then the party was over" and ends in a cloud of Jonny's laughter. In contrast to the heartsick Dad Country, the songs of Sweet Creep are, if not always brimming, at least fully accepting of his fortunes. On a song like "I Love Leaving," Jonny even learns to love his own discontent, surmising "but me I hate talking 'bout the good old days / I never want go down memory lane / I only want to get into the passing lane, and I've always been that way / I guess I love leaving, leaving when I said goodbye."

Sure enough, for all the anguish it may sometimes bring him, we have this discontent to thank for Jonny's tremendous creative range-his It's-a-Fritz leatherwork seen on stars and stages all over, his forays into character acting and hosting his own variety show Who's That Singin', his public love of vehicles, country legend, chill animals, and craft of any kind-not to mention the constant stream of deep goofing that turns even his average days into a show well worth watching. Jonny is a torchbearer in that celebrated country music tradition of giant-sized personalities overflowing into song. John Hartford, Roger Miller, Billy Joe Shaver-fans look to these country musicians for more than just music strictly speaking. They look for life, for outrageous legend-for a showmanship on and offstage that Jonny Fritz will never fail to deliver. He might not have shot anybody, or spent any considerable time in prison, but in Sweet Creep, he reminds himself and his fans, that sometimes great lives can also be pretty good ones.
Venue Information:
Haw River Ballroom
1711 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road
Saxapahaw, NC, 27340
http://www.hawriverballroom.com/