Thursday, May 03, 2007
Toni Price represents everything that is both awesome and tiresome about the Austin music scene. She is an amazing singer, with a richly sensual voice, who could easily have a larger career if she wanted to. But she rarely tours, and rarely makes the kind of records that could expose her to a wider audience. She has been content to make records in Austin using local musicians and producers, recording material by little known Austin and Nashville songwriters or obscure blues standards, and she is best known for her long running Tuesday night Hippy Hour at the Continental Club
I am not at all critical of her decision to stay local. I think that can be really healthy. Just like the best restaurants buy local produce from local growers, sometimes the best music is made by local artists who are totally steeped in their own environment.
But the tiresome part is that localism gets worn like a flag, and then it becomes parochialism. Your audience doesn't grow, it just becomes more fanatic. Your choice in material narrows, and you proudly refuse to grow stylistically.
I used to go to Price's Happy Hour gigs a lot when I lived in Austin. Week in and week out, the music was great. She was backed up at the time by three great Austin guitar players, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Casper Rawls and the late Champ Hood. I always had a good time, even though Toni's cult of weird little hippy girls and fat bikers was a little off putting.
Now, out of the blue, Toni Price has announced she is moving to San Diego, so no more Hippy Hours. And even though I left Austin ten years ago, I will miss knowing that, if I was there, I could always find her at the Continental Club on Tuesday evenings.
Toni Price - Tumbleweed
Loose Diamonds (with Toni Price) - Hanging On
Toni Price on MySpace