Hundreds of Austinites turned out at Waterloo Records Monday afternoon for a late-added in-store by Margo Price, the Nashville singer who has been one of the most auspicious new voices to arise in country music in recent years.
Price is in town for a Tuesday night concert at Emo’s (7 p.m. doors, Paul Cauthen opens, $25). Last week, Waterloo announced she’d be arriving a day early for an in-store appearance. A sizable crowd had amassed by 5 p.m. Price hit the stage at 5:30 p.m., delivering a terrific acoustic set with three bandmates of about a half-dozen songs, most of them from her 2017 album “All American Made.”
Price is one of those “overnight sensations many years in the making” success stories fairly common in the music business. She seemed to come out of nowhere with her 2016 solo debut “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,” which got her on “Saturday Night Live,” but in fact she’d been performing and recording for the better part of two decades. Her previous band, Buffalo Clover, played North Austin dive Carousel Lounge in 2008.
Since “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” came out, she’s been a frequent visitor to Austin. After playing the prestigious NPR showcase at Stubb’s during South by Southwest in 2016, followed by a taping of “Austin City Limits” and two weekends of ACL Fest performances in October of that year. After an interview with us in which she’d expressed a fondness for Austin legend Doug Sahm, our American-Statesman video crew hooked her up that week with Shawn Sahm, Doug’s son, and captured the duo singing Sahm’s “I Wanna Be Your Mama Again” atop Doug Sahm Hill in front of Palmer Events Center.
She also played Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic in 2016, sparking a friendship with Nelson that continued when she played his Luck Reunion gathering during SXSW 2017. She returned to Willie’s Picnic this past July, and when “All American Made” came out in October, it included “Learning to Lose,” a duet with Nelson.
On Monday at Waterloo, she stressed songs from that album, detouring only for a new number she asked the crowd kindly not to record with their mobile phones “because I might mess it up.” She didn’t, but the audience appeared to politely heed her wishes. Closing with “Pay Gap,” a song from the new album that addresses inequal pay between men and women, Price noted that she doesn’t have anything against men in general — “I married one!” — but that she appreciates men “who treat women with respect.”
“All American Made” was released a few weeks past the deadline for 2017 Grammys consideration, but the record might well be nominated in a couple of categories next year. In the meantime, in fared very well in the just-announced 18th annual Nashville Scene Country Music Critics’ Poll, finishing second behind only Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit’s “The Nashville Sound.” “Pay Gap” was voted the No. 21 country single of 2017, and Price also landed near the top in the Female Vocalist, Live Act and Songwriter categories. Only Isbell and Stapleton placed above her for Artist of the Year.
[Note: This blog has been updated to reflect that the in-store was officially scheduled for 5:30 p.m. rather than 5 p.m.]