Margo Price's Star Shines for Sold-Out Ready Room
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Margo Price has paid her dues. At just 34 years old, the Aledo, Ill. native has already lived a lifespan worth of experiences and possesses beyond-her-years wisdom that’s conveyed through her heartfelt lyrics.
Both personal and professional hardships have inspired her songs, and on a rainy night last Sunday in St. Louis, a sold-out Ready Room was eager to let Price sing us her side of the story.
She has an unpretentious yet dynamic stage presence, with vocals reminiscent of Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Price spills her heart and shares her passions in her lyrics, whether she’s reliving and revealing past relationships and heartbreak, describing the behind-the-scenes world of the Nashville music business, or touching on social injustices.
For most of the set, she was front and center on her six-string, backed by her band, the Pricetags, which includes her husband Jeremy Ivey. But she wears many hats on stage. When she wasn’t playing the guitar, she had a tambourine in her hand, a harmonica in her mouth, took a turn on the keyboard (for a solo performance of her new album's title track, "All American Made") and even played the drums—twice!
She kicked off the set with the slower “Nowhere Fast,” the name of the tour, which showcased her vocal range, then picked up the crowd with “Weakness,” a song of contrasts (“Sometimes I’m Virginia Woolf, sometimes I’m James Dean; sometimes I’m my own best friend and my own worst enemy”). Its up tempo spurs dancing but its lyrics lament some of the tough moments she’s had to endure in her past. Price got some social angst out too: “Pay Gap” protests pay inequality between the sexes and gave Micah Hulscher the chance to flaunt his skills on accordion. She also included two covers: Gary Clark’s “New Cut Road” and Bob Dylan’s “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine.” She closed with “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle),” one of her gems from her debut LP, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter.
It was rare to see a rising star like Price perform at a venue as small as the Ready Room, and the crowd seemed to be aware of this, soaking in every minute. She was here in the not-too-distant past, opening for Chris Stapleton at Hollywood Casino Ampitheatre last summer, playing the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival 120 miles to the west in Columbia in the fall, and on her own at the Old Rock House in 2016. But what had us collectively kicking ourselves was that she said she first played St. Louis a few years ago at Lemmons—the longstanding South City haunt and now Balkan restaurant on Gravois—to an empty room.