July, 31, 1982 it was show time. Joe Price walked into Dar’s Bar in Waukon, Iowa and set up a guitar amp, 2 guitar stands, a chair to which he proceeded to tie a foot drum, apparently to keep the thing from escaping as he thumped away on it. He brought out a Gretsch Electric and a battered National Steel guitar. Placing a metal slide on the pinky of his left hand, he closed his eyes and launched into a riotous, rocking sound that grabbed the attention of the club. He played for two hours straight. Sweating and thirsty he stepped off the stage for a break. As the customers gave him a round of applause they began to ask him to let Vicki play. Joe said Vicki who? A tall thin bartender stepped from behind the bar. He handed her his National guitar. She took the stage and played a couple of her own compositions. Over thirty years later the adventure continues.
Joe was the road warrior of the two, having moved to Iowa City in 1971 to start his career. It was a fertile time and place for the blues. Located on I-80, Iowa City was a natural stop for national touring artists connecting Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. Beginning with the Rocket 88’s (through 1974) and continuing with the legendary Mother Blues from ‘75 till ’81, Joe played virtually non-stop. During that stretch, the band worked almost nightly, crisscrossing Midwestern bars and serving as the openers of choice at high-profile shows by Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor, Clifton Chenier, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, James Cotton and more.
In January of 1983 Joe left The Mother Blues band and moved to northeast Iowa. He and Vicki immediately began playing their blue roots music together. Vicki introduced him to venue owners and musicians from the area. Soon they were performing weekly throughout the upper midwest. In 1987 the couple married, having survived 5 years of touring together. Over the years they have opened for such notables as Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Pine Top Perkins, Homesick James, Honeyboy Edwards, Louisiana Red, Al Green, Greg Brown and Iris DeMent. Joe is a member of the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame, The Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and was a finalist in the International Blues Challenge in 2008. They won the Independent Music Award for Best Blues CD 2009 for the release Rain or Shine.
Right from jump-street, the electrifying sound of Joe Price hits you in all the places you live, a one-man blues tornado who can pack, command and wring-out a dance-floor with the authority of an eight-piece show band. His own deep and varied bag of original music is so formidable that noted Grammy-award nominated singer/songwriter Greg Brown has long referred to Joe as “the Buddha.” Vicki’s powerful bluesy voice evokes an image of a woman in a 1920’s speakeasy singing her heart out. She is a quite good, more conventional guitar player than Joe and a song writer of some talent. She is a women who can be summoned to the stage (seemingly at a moments notice, this is no “act”) to jump onto the freight train that is Joe’s current musical number.
The couple released two CD’s on their home-grown label Blues Acres Productions; in October of 2008 A Brand New Place which features 10 tunes penned by Vicki and in March of 2009 Joe’s collection of original songs Rain or Shine. Both releases made the top 100 CD’s of 2009 in Real Blues Magazine. A Brand New Place was nominated for Best independent release at the International Blues Challenge in 2008, Rain or Shinewas nominated for 2009. Rain or Shine won an Independent Music Award for Best Blues CD 2009. It has received rave reviews in major publications including Vintage Guitar Magazine, DownBeat Magazine, The American Music Guide, Blues Revue and the Chicago Sun Times.
Their newest offering, Night Owls, contains ten of the couples original tunes, four of Joe’s and six of Vicki’s. The first recording they have done featuring songs the two of them wrote on one CD. It was an exciting project. The couple does not usually write together, so as each of them worked on their separate songs they had to be sure the tunes would work together and live side by side on the finished project. After all these years they have finally collaborated in writing the song Bones, it is their first tune written together. Night Owls was produced by Joe and Vicki , the tracks were recorded and mixed in Nashville by Joe McMahan at Wow Flutter Studio. Joe McMahan also plays the drums on track 10 “A Beer Away”.
Joe and Vicki appear regularly at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. From coast to coast, and from concerts, to clubs, to outdoor festivals, the Price's singular vision and dazzling, irresistible live performances continue to etch a steady, upward arc.