Following on the back of their recent ARIA Chart success with California Dreaming, number seven on the Albums Chart and number one on the Australian Album Chart – acclaimed singer songwriters Rick Price and Jack Jones have announced they’ll embark on a national tour in May 2018 to celebrate this amazing songbook.
A tribute to the west-coast California sounds of the 60’s & 70’s, California Dreaming has been warmly embraced, fans revelling in the selection of songs from the period from the likes of The Mamas And The Papas, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Eagles, The Doors, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Rick Price speaks to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about this songbook and the upcoming tour.
Great news that you’ve got another really exciting project, California Dreaming, coming. Yeah, it must be really good times with how it’s going at the minute?
Yes, yes. I’m very excited. I’m very happy with the album, and it’s been received pretty well, so that’s always nice.
So how did that come about?
Well, Jack and I have been wanting to record together for many years and when this opportunity came up, we jumped at it, discussed it, and totally realised it could be a great idea. So we just jumped on it and he came from New York City to Nashville, which is where I live and we recorded our album there.
Is it a matter of just finding the right sort of project to do, or were you ready to almost jump at anything?
No, we were offered the project. We were offered the project by Sony Music, our label. We were both approached, and that’s how it came about.
So how far back in time does the relationship go with Jack, does it almost go back to the Southern Sons days, when they started to make a name for themselves?
Oh, yeah. Absolutely! We were good mates, we’ve been good mates since back in the ’90s, when he was in Southern Sons. We both kind of came onto the scene at the same time and got to know each other and then of course we toured together quite a lot through the ’90s, playing acoustic shows. That was what cemented the relationship. Let’s say, from that point on we both felt like, gee, it would be great to have an opportunity to record together but it just never came to fruition, until now.
What’s taken you to Nashville? Not trying to digress too much but being able to reach a much bigger audience? Or being around the right sorts of people?
I just follow my instincts. I have spent a lot of time in America over the years. I made my first album in Los Angeles, and I lived in Los Angeles for a while and I would often make trips to Nashville, song writing over the years. In 2009 I went on tour in America with my friend Tommy Emmanuel. Long story short, after that year’s tour, I just decided to stay and set up house here, my studio and make this my base. Yes, it is sort of a musical, it was a decision that I’ve made based on being in another part of the world, where the music that I was writing and recording was more popular and accessible here. So that had a lot to do with it.
Do you have a big fan base over there? No doubt it is hard for any musician to tour consistently in Australia because the market’s not quite there.
No, it’s not so much that. It’s just song writing and recording, and I do a lot of production work. I produce a lot of records for other artists. That’s been part of the draw-card as well. So I come back to Australia to tour and I do some touring in America but I spent most of my time in the studio.
Were you surprised how well this project resonated with both yourself and Jack, and how connected you became tour?
You know what? I don’t think it would be truthful to say that I was surprised. I think, delighted might be a term I’d use, but not surprised because the music, the songs that we chose are so popular. They’re such a big part of my musical history, and also Jack’s, and I think the population at large. You know, these songs, they’re iconic, all of them, big songs. So I knew that those songs would resonate with people. What I was delighted about was that people accepted our versions of them. That was really lovely, and have been really complementary about it, so that’s been a really nice thing.
What was it like rehearsing these songs? That must have been like a whole lot of fun, just jam these out, and put your own sort of spin on it.
Yeah. Well, Jack is such a fine musician and has incredible instincts musically. When we would get together in a room, and just jam the songs out, it was just a lot of fun. The arrangements, we stuck pretty close to the original arrangements, but we had a lot of fun putting this record together. We did a lot of laughing and was just a lot of joy around revisiting these tracks.
Were the songs really easy to pick, almost like leaping out in front of you, saying, pick me, pick me? Is that how easy it was?
Yeah, pretty much. I mean, the difficult part was the songs that we had to leave out. There was certainly plenty to choose from, so there was no difficulty in finding songs. As I say, the difficulty was leaving some behind. That was the hard part, we had to whittle it down to twelve tracks.
Does that leave the door open for California Dreaming 2, and 3, 4, 5?
It probably does. It probably does, I think.
Out of the artists that you picked, which ones had the biggest influence on you, or is that too hard, to separate one from another?
No, no. Very easy. James Taylor, Neil Young, The Eagles, Jackson Brown. That was the music that really hit me hard in my teens. When I first heard James Taylor, I just freaked out. It was just such a great sound to my ear, it just resonated with me when I was a kid and it’s never really left me. I’ve always admired and enjoyed those guys a lot and I loved The Eagles when I was a kid, because I sort of grew up on country, rhythm & blues, I suppose you might say and that’s where that music had its roots, in country and folk, even the blues. When you listen to James Taylor singing, You’ve Got a Friend, and a lot of stuff that he does, people think of James as a somewhat of a folk, pop singer, I suppose but he’s very much a rhythm and blues singer. You can hear it in a lot of these songs and even so in the Eagles’ music, you can hear it, all those influences.
Even more exciting is, you get to take this out on the road next year. It must be quite thrilling, to play some bigger venues and do these songs, and some of your own, and to play with a big band as well?
Yeah, it’s going to be a great tour in May. We’re really looking forward to it. We have a great band and as you say, we’re going to play the whole album but we’re also going to play some of my songs, some of Jack’s songs, and so it’s going to be a pretty full show.
You should confuse people, and do some of Jack’s songs, and he does some of yours.
Yeah. Well, we probably will.
Apart from the California Dreaming tour, what does 2018 look like for Rick Price? Are you looking to maybe have another album out, or come back and do your own tour at some point here?
Yes, I will. I’m planning on being back in October for my own solo tour and I would like to have a new album out by the end as well.
How’s that progressing so far, is it the usual Rick Price we know? Are you looking to do something a bit different? Is there much you can say about the album?
I’ve been leading into some different territory. My last album is really something a little bit different, and it had some gospel roots to that record and I’m hoping to getting back to some of my R&B roots a little bit. You have to be careful using that term these days because it means a different thing to a lot of people, even the old school R&B. It will be somewhat more of the same, in that my song writing style. I have been writing with some different people, that always brings a different flavour in turn to the songs.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Rick Price and Jack Jones performing California Dreaming on the following dates…