Saving soul | Spotlight | Indy Week
Pin It

Saving soul 

No "blue eyes" for Billy Price

Everybody's got it, but few are able to express it. When white guys try it, they usually tack on a "blue-eyed" prefix so that when they can't deliver the goods they have a built-in excuse. Soul is both the medium and the message. It's not used much any more to describe a style of music or the feeling behind it, but it's still out there.

Billy Price is the real thing, carrying on the tradition of Otis, Pickett and Solomon Burke. But you won't find the most obvious soul men in Price's repertoire. "I sorta got that out of my system when I was younger," Price said by phone from his Pittsburgh home. "I was a nut for Otis Redding. I was a member of the Otis Redding Fan Club when I was in high school. I started to really get into the HI Records sound after awhile, not just Al Green, but Syl Johnson and all those folks, Otis Clay especially."

You can add O.V. Wright and James Carr to the list as well--Price dedicated 1981's They Found Me Guilty to Wright and has covered Carr's "Dark End of the Street" and "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man."

He doesn't look the part, nor does he share the background of most soul purveyors. Price, who holds a master's in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon, is manager of communications at Software Engineering Institute, a Carnegie Mellon research institute, and is an adjunct professor at the school. But those highbrow pursuits haven't stopped him from exploring the depths of his soul.

Billy Mellon adopted his stage surname from Lloyd Price and had his first band at age 12. But it was the Rhythm Kings, the band that Price started while at Penn State in the '70s, that attracted attention. Price was hired as a vocalist for guitarist Roy Buchanan from '72 - '76, before dropping out of the business to get his degree. Then he went back on the road, touring the Keystone Rhythm Band for nearly a decade.

That experience led Price to decide that he wouldn't have much of a quality of life if he just did music. "I've found that when I stopped doing this full time that I was just going to have to make too many compromises that didn't feel right to me to be able to keep doing it," the singer says. He wanted to keep his integrity intact, not wanting to be pushed around by the industry or his own management. "Eventually I thought this might be better and more satisfying for me as an avocation rather than a vocation."

Price doesn't sound like any particular soul singer, but he possesses the vocal characteristics of the best--liquid smoke wrapped in barbed wire. He's backed by a tight, horn-heavy band that provides the punch of the old HI Records/Al Green sessions. And although Price insists he can't sing like Green, he's got that same intensity and a gospel scream as churchy as the Rev's.

Billy Price plays the Cat's Cradle on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 day of show.

  • No "blue eyes" for Billy Price

Latest in Spotlight

More by Grant Britt

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Spotlight



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

i love WXYC, except fpr the low power, hillsborough hardley gets it, metaphorically speaking. the sound quality is horrible. can …

by peterhoyt on Uncle Woody Sullender (Spotlight)

almost as good a my son, nique

by peterhoyt on Uncle Woody Sullender (Spotlight)

Juliette Lewis is such a great actress but shes an even more amazing singer! I am so excited she is …

by Gerard on Juliette & the Licks (Spotlight)

We the House Of God Church (Keith Dominion)in Fayetteville,NC is having a Gospel Fest for our Y.F.F.U. Dept. in August. …

by yvette 58 on The Campbell Brothers (Spotlight)

This man, as well as Jasper were very talented. They took there handicap, and made a living out of it.They …

by babyboo on Skeeter Brandon (Spotlight)

Comments

i love WXYC, except fpr the low power, hillsborough hardley gets it, metaphorically speaking. the sound quality is horrible. can …

by peterhoyt on Uncle Woody Sullender (Spotlight)

almost as good a my son, nique

by peterhoyt on Uncle Woody Sullender (Spotlight)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation