By Dave Parsons
A dozen or so years ago, I was the photographer for a famous radio show concert that broadcast out of Wheeling, WV, and featured regional acts every Saturday night. It was the 79th anniversary weekend of the show, and like most weeks the show was predominately country and bluegrass, two genres that play well to a radio, and now internet audience. Being at the show taking pictures almost every week, and seeing most of the acts being rotated through the lineup, it was that weekend that a “family” bluegrass act caught my attention.
The Price Family were from nearby Sardis, Ohio and the lead singers were identical twin sisters, Leanna and Lauren Price, in their late teen years. Their band consisted of their dad, and some family friends, but the thing that stood out was these girls played lead mandolin and fiddle for the group. They had a stage presence already, that acts twice their age hoped to have and just raw talent, especially singing bluegrass. They both had that sound in their voices, even at such a young age.
A few years later the girls each won a Bill Vernon Memorial Scholarship at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. The scholarships are awarded to talented and motivated students who are involved in bluegrass music and demonstrate a need for assistance for college tuition.
They made the most of the opportunity and signed a recording contract with Rebel Records, released an EP and began to tour as The Price Sisters, BEFORE they completed their Bachelor’s degrees in Traditional Music from Morehead State University.
Since then, they have performed at dozens of venues and festivals in the United States as well as in Australia, China, Ireland, German and Switzerland! They even managed to try out for a movie playing themselves! With all of that gong for them, it was indeed a full circle moment to catch up with them at the Monroe County Fair, the very same home county fair in Ohio that they grew up coming to as little girls.
A capacity crowd filled the show area nearly an hour before the first standing room only show started. After an hour of non-stop music, they took a short break before playing to an even larger audience the second set. I managed to catch up with them after the second show for a few questions.
NEW FURY: “Tell me about the new song and project coming out.”
PRICE SISTERS: “We have a new CD almost ready to come out. It will be called “Between The Lines” and we are super excited about it. We made two records in the past professionally, and it’s been a long time coming, with Covid and everything, but we got it made and really proud of how it turned out and proud to share it.”
NEW FURY: “Bluegrass isn’t played a lot on traditional radio stations. Does satellite radio play a big role in getting your music heard?”
PRICE SISTERS: “I think that is what pushes bluegrass to a larger audience is satellite radio for the most part. Sirius XM has a dedicated bluegrass station, and of course, terrestrial radio we have had a lot of support from, as well as online station that play our records.”
NEW FURY: “You do a lot of traditional bluegrass songs, that date back decades, in your show. Do you find that the younger audience you draw are embracing those songs, and giving new life to them when you play them.”
PRICE SISTERS: “ I think we have good response to the songs that we play. We like the older songs a lot, and some of those are things that they may not have heard before, so they are new to them in a way. In general, though there are a lot of bands in our peer age group that are doing some older material.”
NEW FURY: “Is this a trend that will continue on the new album?”
PRICE SISTERS: “It’s honestly half new and half older songs, but it’s tricky as an artist to be viable and currently out there trying to do something, you can’t just be a cover band and without writing a lot of our own material, when we pick songs that other folks have done we try to get something that is either from out of the catalog and bring it in, or something that has been forgotten about for awhile.”
NEW FURY: “Do you try to connect with anyone in particular in the audience, or if they are connecting with you?”
PRICE SISTERS: “It depends on what the song is saying, and while it is easy to fall in the trap of going through the motions when you are rehearsed and know where you are trying to do, the most important thing is it doesn’t have to sound perfect, but it does need to sound genuine to whoever is hearing the music. A lot of folks don’t think they like this style of music until they hear this kind of music live and it connects because of the real stripped down style and sound that really connects to a lot of folks.”
The Price Sisters live show consists of the twins fronting a band of accomplished musicians in their own right. The incredible melodies and natural harmonies add the professional polish to their stage show that I saw a decade ago when it was beginning to form. Every show is different as they call the next song when they finish the previous one, so without recording the show it is almost impossible to get an accurate setlist to post, but on this evening, the songs ranged from the traditional “Soldiers Joy” and “Stay On the Sunnyside” right through the Price Sister’s most recent singles “When I’m Not Thinking About You” and “Ten Cent Pistol” which was originally recorded by alternative blues band The Black Keys in 2010. The versatility to take songs and give them a stripped down bluegrass arrangements and performance are the major appeal of the Price Sisters music, and the foundation to build on for the future.