I grew up listening to gospel music….Doc Watson, Merle Travis were my dad’s favorites…I was influenced a lot by Mississippi John Hurt…I really enjoyed that finger style, guitar playing.
On this episode, we talk with some blues legends of the Midwest music scene, Joe and Vicki Price. We chat about influences, how they met, getting back on the road, and what’s next for this magical duo.
I’m Vicki Price and I was born in Waukon, Iowa. I got into music through my mother who played organ and piano at church and had me and my sister singing duets when we were little girls, and it just kept going from there.
Joe Price 01:13
And my name is Joe Price. I’m from Waterloo, Iowa. And I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old, nine or 10 in 1960. My brother gave me his guitar when he went into the army in 1960. And I’ve been playing it ever since. And my grandpa was a professional musician in Waterloo. I have been playing music for a living for 50 years or more.
Brent Hanifl 01:47
So you know, for someone who hasn’t seen you before, what are some of your guys’ musical influences?
Joe Price 01:53
Vicki Price 01:54
Yeah, you first.
Joe Price 01:54
I, my mailman was a guitarist, and he would tune my guitar for me on the porch of our house and when he was delivering mail, and there was a big influence there. Also Earl Hooker, John Lee Hooker’s cousin, lived in Waterloo part of his life and I saw him there a couple of times. Earl Hooker the slide player, that’s, he said, put a bicycle, cut off a bicycle handlebar for a slide because you couldn’t buy one and then. Yeah, go ahead.
Vicki Price 02:38
I grew up listening to gospel music, and Doc Watson and Merle Travis were my dad’s favorites. So there was a lot of that in the house. And then I was influenced a lot by Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotton. I really enjoyed that fingerstyle guitar playing.
Brent Hanifl 02:55
I’ve seen you play a number of times throughout the years throughout La Crosse, throughout this region, actually. How long have you guys been playing together?
Joe Price 03:03
Vicki Price 03:04
Joe Price 03:05
We met July 25th, Saturday night, 1983. I’m sorry, 1982. And we, I was playing at a bar in Waukon, Iowa called Dar’s Place and Vicki was bartending. And I told the audience, I was gonna take a break. And on the break, they said, let Vicki play, let Vicki play. And I said Vicki who? And she was the bartender. And so she came around, and I tuned up my guitar. So we tuned differently. She played mine. And that’s how we met. And that’s, you tell him about the party afterwards.
Vicki Price 03:57
Yeah. So since 1982, we’ve been playing together.
Brent Hanifl 04:03
How is the process for writing, for playing? How do you guys work collaboratively with it? Is there a benefit to it, is it a struggle, or is it pretty easy for you guys?
Joe Price 04:10
We don’t collaborate, that’s how we get along. She writes her songs and I write mine. And then whoever’s fronting the song plays the loudest and the other one backs off. It’s just that easy.
Vicki Price 04:25
Brent Hanifl 04:26
You know, that does sound like an easy way to go about it. I checked out your website before we chatted here and it looks like you got a full calendar for the remainder of 2021. How did this whole COVID thing affect you guys?
Vicki Price 04:38
Well, we were out of work for you know, for the year and a half. It just, everything just shut down. So we’ve worked, you know, writing and practicing and trying to get through financially. And once vaccines came out, people could get out again, then booking took off. I think It’s gonna be the roaring 20s, again. People are anxious to get out and about. So it booked up pretty fast. And this is actually a slow year for us, we’re not booking nearly as much as we did before COVID. It kind of made us realize we wanted to slow down a little bit. We were doing, you know, on average 165, 175 shows a year. So, and Joe is 70 and I’m 67 so we thought maybe we’d slow down a little bit.
Brent Hanifl 05:30
There you go. I mean it you know, I feel like this past year has made people kind of reflect and kind of adapt to the changes. So you know, talking about spending this time writing and stuff like that, is there anything coming down the line for you guys new album, or anything, or just getting just excited to be back on the road?
Vicki Price 05:46
We’re working, we’re gonna be doing a professional video here in September, which we’re excited about doing. A friend that was a manager at Lagunitas in Chicago, is putting it together for us. And he’s recorded some of the Chicago Blues People and wanted to do a video of us. So we’re excited about that. That’s the big thing we’re focusing on this year.
Brent Hanifl 06:09
So is the video related to a new song?
Vicki Price 06:11
It’s going to be related to our performance. We’re going to do a show in Burlington and he’s going to record that and then he’s going to interview us about our life and music. Yeah.
Brent Hanifl 06:21
You know, you’ve been away for a year, was it pretty easy to just kind of that first time jumping back on stage to just adapt and jump into it? Because I know I’ve been to a lot of shows, just the past couple of weeks I’ve been to probably six shows, and you know, vaccines came out I took it. I’ve just been really excited to see live music. What was it like for you guys jumping up on that stage?
Vicki Price 06:42
It was scary. Nerve wracking after all that time and you know, things happened like you forgot words. We had to go back and study our own songs so we could remember the words, but once you’re in, once you’re doing it, it’s fun and you kind of swing and go with it, you know?
Brent Hanifl 07:02
So if people want to find out more, maybe catch one of your shows, or just check out your music, what’s the best avenue for them to go to?
Vicki Price 07:08
Best place to go is our website joepriceblues.com. And I always have the schedule updated and they can find where we’re playing.
Amy Gabay 07:42
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at lacrosselocal.com. And you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.
Subscribe to "La Crosse Local" on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it!
About La Crosse Local
La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.
Find us in your favorite podcast app.