Jackson Price finds his own groove with The Blues Rockets

Jackson Price heads up The Blues Rockets. Courtesy photo

Taos musician Jackson Price said the songs he writes differ from standard blues songs. "I rarely write about 'my baby left me' or 'I'm down and out.' I write about being bald, fat, and 45 or being an overweight American. I think that's what sets me aside from other middle-aged white guys playing the blues."

Price will play with his band The Blues Rockets Friday (Oct. 19), 6:30-9:30 p.m. in the Adobe Bar at The Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Tempo caught up with the artist after a sold-out show at in the Arthur Bell Auditorium at the Harwood Museum.

Price said his music influences and style developed at home with the help of his father's record player. "I was raised with jazz and blues spinning on my father's record player. My father was a big music fan. He was a jazz historian of sorts, who could tell you who the rhythm section was on any record just by listening to it. He also had a deep love for the blues."

He said the first artist he remembered "jumping out at me and inspiring me to play music was Jimmy Reed. His simple laid-back style was the reason I took up guitar. I wanted to play that Jimmy Reed 12-bar blues. That led me to a full force exploration of the blues. Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Freddie King, B.B. (King), Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker and Albert King, to name the core, became my inspiration."

Price said he always noodled on guitar, but when he was 33, he had an epiphany. He said he realized he needed to play music. "I spent the next three years woodshedding," he said. "No one saw me. I had a full-time job, and every minute I wasn't working, I was playing guitar. I then joined a blues band in Los Angeles called The Mighty Mojo Prophets and played lead guitar."

After he left Los Angeles for Taos he set out to build the perfect blues band. Finding the right musicians was challenging.

"I hooked up with Conrad Cooper, and because the straight blues band concept wasn't panning out, I started Big Swing Theory as a jump blues band. Four years into BST, I realized I still had tons of blues material that needed a project to be heard, so I set out to create Jackson Price and the Blues Rockets."

He said he "lost a handful of musicians to bigger towns, dismissed many for either not showing up or just not displaying any passion or ability, but can say after four long years of whittling this band, the right pieces are in place. Our following is growing and I'm having a lot of fun playing music with these guys. I got close to giving up on this project, and I'm glad I didn't."

Price described his love for the blues genre, saying it "always made me feel warm inside and still does to this day. It feels right. I love the simple structure of blues -- like a blank white canvas for a gritty voice, guitar or harmonica to paint a picture on."

He describes the perfect blues band as one with "two guitars: one guitar always joining the bass in the simple rhythm part bringing hard-driving midrange to the lows of the bass. It's hard to find a guitar player who will play a simple rhythm."

He feels close to that perfection with his current band. "Blues guitar players take up blues guitar to shred leads, but in my band the rhythm guitar is one of the most important parts," he said. "Dave Chmil is amazing at it and a top-tier lead player, so it makes the band special. That coupled with the fact I love playing rhythm guitar just as much as lead makes the two guitars play off each other well in this band. After four years of trial and error, I have the perfect rhythm section behind the guitars: Max Moulton on drums and Colin Jenkinson on bass."

He said his band loves playing live music and is looking forward to the intimate setting at The Taos Inn. "We love playing live music," Price said. "We play a lot of original blues music and also sprinkle in a bunch of old blues standards by the greats. The Taos Inn is one of our favorite venues because it is the living room of Taos, and we generate a lot of energy there."

Price said the band is working on a few projects, including its debut album of 14 original songs to be released this winter.

"I'm proud of the project," he said. "We are blending old school blues and rock with modern lyrical themes and some charm that will make it a pleasant listen. I love writing songs and having this band turn ideas into music is a dream come true. Once the album is released, we will shoot a video of a handful of songs live in studio and push this band for a tour next summer."

Price says the band plays a show at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership every Tuesday at 5 p.m. "It's an early blues show we've been doing for years. We have a good turnout and a big group of dancers show up."

For more, call The Taos Inn at (575) 758-2233.

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