Has More than the Blues-
Lara Price Diversifies on Her
There's nothing subtle about Lara
Price's new album "Everything."
After a decade of climbing the slippery
slope to the top of the Bay Area blues heap, Price is declaring her musical independence.
While her come-hither pose on the cover draws the eye, a careful glance around
the living room scene reveals LP covers from albums by Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis,
Funkadelic and John Coltrane.
Those artists are more symbolic signposts for
where she's heading than literal sources she's drawing on, though Price does offer
a sultry version of the pop/jazz standard "Fever."
to show off that I'm not just a blues artists, I can be multifaceted," said
Price, who plays her regular Thursday gig tonight at the Poor House Bistro with
her Yesterdays Band. "Some hard-core blues fans might not like it. People
want to put you in a box."
As a Filipina who made her reputation as a
blues singer, Price is used to confounding expectations ("People say, 'Wow!
You sound like a huge black woman,'"?" Price said. "I'm glad to
be a surprise rather than a disappointment.") At a point in her career when
she's determined to satisfy her creative needs, she decided to turn her fifth
album into an opportunity to stretch her wings.
with an aggressive blues Price cowrote with her former guitarist, the prodigious
Laura Chavez (who's strutting her stuff these days with blues star Candye Kane).
But the CD takes a left turn with the second track, the gospel-powered plea "One
With half the album featuring her Yesterdays band and the other
half a horn-laden ensemble led by powerhouse guitarist Mighty Mike Schermer, Price
introduces a new vocal shading on each track, convincingly delivering songs far
afield from her usual fare, including Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End
of Love," Lennon and McCartney's "Yesterday" and John Prine's "Angel
"I do feel like I've been pigeonholed in this box
the last four CDs," Price said while taking refuge in a San Francisco hotel
lobby after attending the World Series victory parade for the Giants. "The
fact is I might feel stronger about some of these other genres. This was really
a chance for me to offer at least one song to people with a lot of different tastes."
hasn't abandoned her blues book. She still gets gritty with Yesterdays.
she's honing a searing, brass-powered sound that she's unleashing at a release
concert at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz on Wednesday, when she teams up with Schermer
and a top-shelf band augmented by the Sweet Nectars, a succulent soul and gospel
trio known for backing such R&B greats as Jimmy McCracklin and Sugar Pie DeSanto.
who left the Bay Area for Austin, Texas, last year due to his steady gig with
Marcia Ball, first heard Price almost a decade ago when her band featured teenage
guitar phenom Chavez. While impressed by Price's pipes, he felt she had yet to
develop a commanding stage presence.
"I remember thinking she was a good
singer," says Schermer, who's back in town for a series of gigs, including
Nov. 26 at the Poor House Bistro. "Lara was new to the blues, and she was
happy to let Laura Chavez be the show. As a result, she wasn't stepping up to
become her own artist. It's been fun to see her blossom.
"She gets better
all the time, her taste is expanding, and she's digging deeper into every genre,"
Schermer continues. "When she told me about 'Everything' I was a little skeptical,
but it hangs together really well. She puts her own spin on everything."
living in Aptos, Price grew up in an Air Force family, which meant moving every
few years, including a stint in England. Along the way she took music lessons
from Welsh synth-pop star Howard Jones, an early force on MTV. She arrived in
San Jose in 1997, and found her way to JJ's Blues joint, where she quickly started
running a weekly blues jam, where she made musical connections and pursued her
"It wasn't necessarily about doing the blues, it was
about being with other musicians, the opportunity to sit in," Price said.
"The blues and soul just grew on me and stuck like glue. A friend, Johnny
Fabulous, gave me a disc by Donny Hathaway, and it was like a connection right
to my heart.
"I grew up with '80s rock, loving Heart and Pat Benatar.
Where did the blues come from? I have no idea."
San Jose Mercury News