Monday, March 24, 2008

Pittsburgh's Mr. R&B

The one time I met Billy Price, I thought I'd impress him by bringing along a CD of an album on which he sang in the early '70s: Roy Buchanan's "That's What I Am Here For."

Billy took a withering glance at it. "That's a lousy album," was his comment.

Well, I like it, but I wasn't going to argue with him. After all, he's been one of the most popular Pittsburgh performers for three decades.

And seeing Billy perform these days is a heck of a lot different than what he was doing with the late Mr. Buchanan in the day. That was in kind of a blues-rock motif, punctuated by Roy's feedback-laden, virtuoso guitar, good listening for college kids sitting around their apartment (the first time I heard it), but ...

Today's Billy Price Band is a rhythm-and-blues shot of energy, with Bill delivering the suitably gritty vocals of a seasoned veteran. And he has a crack supporting cast that epitomizes the polished, professional R&B revue.

Billy joined the top-flight crew of musicians who gathered recently to help fellow performer Tony Janflone Jr., the Washington guitarist who is recovering from injuries so he can return to the stage (and play more benefits on behalf of others, and he's done countless times in the past).

With my video camera perched atop a video game machine at the Rhythm House in South Fayette Township, I captured the Billy Price Band in performance. Here are some tunes from that show, all from the band's 2006 album, "East End Avenue":

Here's another one: Bobby Lexing's "Bump and Grind." For whatever reason, my recorder cut off the end. Plus, from my vantage point, guitarist Steve Delach was standing behind a speaker, so I couldn't catch the visuals of him playing his hot licks.

And yes, catching the band live beats sitting around listening to "That's What I Am Here For." (Sorry, Roy, wherever you are.)

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