Margo Price

I have a confession to make… I’ve just been to a Country gig, and quite liked it. There. I’ve said it. Perhaps not quite the shock revelation you were expecting, but some times you just have to get these things out in the open.

Margo Price and Micah HulscherThe gig in question was last night’s set from Margo Price and Micah Hulscher at Rough Trade. Lampy and I arrived to find the stage set up and that the band had gone in search of food, but had yet to soundcheck. With all the microphone stands and Micah’s keyboard in place, Lampy set about focusing her array of lights and going through the “rites of appeasement” required to get the power-bricks a) working and b) talking to Lampy’s laptop of ultimate control. Such mystic rites appear, on the surface at least, to be similar to the rites used in the equally enigmatic rituals associated with IT trouble shooting: plug it in, unplug it, swear at it, threaten the (supposedly) inanimate object with a range of terrible fates, turn it on again and repeat until the correct response is received from the light. However, I am not even an entry-level initiate in to the secret world of the “lighting engineer” so of course the actual processes involved in bending a truculent lighting rig to Lampy’s considerable will could be far more complex and arcane than I give credit for…

Given the absence of the band I was put to use by Lampy and made to lurk on stage next to the microphone stand while the Birdies were adjusted (by adjusted, I mean prodded with a Margo Pricelarge stick until they were pointing at me…). It’s not very often that I have ventured on to the stage, and it’s an interesting experience… With the lights at Rough Trade being set up on two vertical trusses either side of the stage the artist can look forwards in to what I assume must be a dark chasm where the crowd should be loitering without being totally blinded (look left or right and the retina searing light of the power-bricks will leave you seeing lines of bright dots for some time…). The crowd at RT are not really lit during the performance, maybe the strip lights at the entrance to the shop near the cafe silhouette the heads of the crowd, but I’m not sure you’d see faces (unless lit by the glow of a smart phone being used to video a song). Maybe that’s why when the venue isn’t completely rammed that’s some bands beckon the crowd closer… Just to make sure there’s someone there, and they’re not alone on stage sharing their music with the empty darkness.

No danger of that for Margo. Even as the lighting rig was being tamed, numerous “Industry-looking” characters had already swept imperiously in to our little side-of-stage space looking for Margo so by the time Margo and Micah were ready to soundcheck, now fully refuelled on Brick Lane’s finest curry, a fairly seizable crowd had gathered. The soundcheck gave me the chance to see where would be good to stand for the set, and it was well worth checking because Margo often turned slightly to face Micah has he played the keyboard, she also plays with the neck of her guitar quite high. This meant if I’d chosen to go for standing at the right hand side of the stage, I could get Margo and Micah in the same shot nicely with Margo in the foreground, but I’d probably be shooting up past the neck and headboard of her guitar to get a shot of Margo’s face – far from ideal. Left of stage it was then…

The soundcheck sounded great, and the geek in me was surprised and fascinated by the mini-microphone on a suction pad Micah used to turn the rather spectacular looking specimen of that life-style choice of an instrument that is the accordion in to something even more spectacular, an electric accordion!

Micah Hulscher
The Magic Hands of Micah Hulscher…

Margo Price is hot property at the moment and I get the feeling that tonight we’re seeing the industry machine smoothly doing what it does best. There is hobnobbing. There are bigwigs. Lampy and I are happily oblivious to who is who, much to the surprise of some…

Recently signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records, with her first album released in March, nominations for all sorts of awards at the Americana Music Honours and Awards and having played on both Jules Holland’s show this week the same night as the mighty Mr. Pop and Mr. Homme, and for Jo Wiley’s show on BBC Radio 2, things look like they’re going rather well for Margo at the moment. Her story, or at least the one out there on the net, is almost the Margo Price and Micah Hulscherarchetypal Nashville dream of someone dropping out of college and moving to Nashville for follow musical dreams, and then having to go through a world of strife and heartache before finally striking it big. Being exposed to a full suite of terrible lows on the way to striking it big have given Margo a deep well of experience to write from, and she does this incredibly well delivering lyrics packed with equal parts sorrow, regret, determination and hope with a Dolly Parton-infused vocal style that grabs and holds the attention. The quality and sprinted flourishes of Micah’s honky-tonk keyboard playing compliments Margo’s guitar and vocals perfectly and the pair make for a charming and very enjoyable evenings music.

I particularly enjoyed the song entitled “It ain’t drink driving if you’re riding a horse” about errrm… evading the police whilst drunk in charge of a horse, or at least being drunk whilst riding it, as one would assume it was probably in charge at this point. This song saw a spontaneous outbreak of wide smiles across the whole crowd!

Rough Trade East – 19/05/2016

Margo Price and Micah Hulscher

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