.Singer-Songwriter Margo Price at Mill Valley Music Fest

In 2016, Margo Price put out Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, an album of hardcore honky-tonk songs that put a singer-songwriter spin on traditional country.

The next year, her All American Made album moved away from the straight country, adding a shade of R&B to the mix. Then 2020’s That’s How Rumors Get Started shifted Price into classic rock territory.

Now Price has released Strays II, an expanded version of the album she released earlier in 2023. It spins ’60s/’70s psychedelia into a genre-defying, roots-music amalgam, continuing the process of constant reinvention that Price acknowledges she got from music’s master changeling, which she will also bring to the Mill Valley Music Festival come May 11 and 12.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

“That’s been one of the biggest tools in my toolbox that I’ve definitely got from (Bob) Dylan. And it’s scary as hell,” Price said. “You know, you make a record, there’s finally a breakthrough—my first album was incredibly kind of ’60s/’70s traditional country, pedal steel, walking songs and fiddle and all that stuff. I think a lot of people just really expected (me) to stay in that lane and just do that forever.

“But in a way, as Dylan saw folk music as a vehicle—it could take him where he needed to go. I kind of felt that way with country music,” she said. “I had been a student of folk, blues, rock ’n’ roll and all those things in the melting pot. I think Dylan is kind of the ultimate figure. If somebody can do any genre, it’s him.”

Price made those comments during a recent on-stage interview earlier at the Switchyard during The World of Bob Dylan conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an event that explored Dylan’s influence on her and her relationship with his music.

That influence was pivotal after Price moved to Nashville, Tennessee, from rural Illinois, where she spent hours under a famous Dylan 1966 poster listening to Dylan’s music, going beyond the greatest hits she’d previously absorbed.

“I just dove in headfirst and started listening to all the albums because my parents were trying to convince me that I needed to go to Belmont (University), look at this music degree and all this stuff,” Price said. “And I think just listening to the entire Bob Dylan catalog was a better use of my time than educational pursuits.”

“I always kind of feel nobody can do what Bob Dylan can do,” she said. “But of course, you try to take pieces and vignettes in his sketches, things that he’s done. It just makes me feel less afraid to use any vocabulary and track any tempo or just even doing songs differently.”

Price, 40, wasn’t born when Dylan released his now-classic ’60s songs. Nor was it likely she heard many of them on the radio growing up. But when she discovered Dylan as a teenager, she found her favorite song and more.

“We’ve covered so many songs, things, deep cuts that nobody would ever do from like Basement Tapes or like Hazel,” said Price. “So much of that is just in my subconscious now. It’s just in the fiber of my being and, really, learning,” she added. “Now, obviously, I think it’s important to write your own songs and have your own voice and do your own thing. But when I was young and coming up with this, every single song that I covered, it was kind of like trying on a new outfit. See how that fit, you know? Then from there, you could construct your own.”

For more information about the Mill Valley Music Festival, including the complete lineup and tickets, visit millvalleymusicfest.com.

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