Q&A with actor and musician Donnie Price, Texas-based artist has entertained audiences around the world

"My travels have confirmed to me that music brings people together in ways that politics, culture or religion never can. I was in Austin, Texas in the early 70s when Willie Nelson brought the hippies and rednecks together. It was amazing. And I was blown away when I first went to Italy to find people who understood no English were huge Townes Van Zandt fans.  As long as music can continue to lead the way to our similarities as opposed to our differences there may be hope. We'll see."

Donnie Price: A Star of Lone Star

Donnie Price has been a respected Texas musician since the 1970s. His official bio simply reads "Bass player Donnie Price has provided low, profound pulsations for a lot of people you've probably heard of", but a peruse through his Facebook photos show him performing with the likes of  such prestigious Texas artists as Augie Meyers and Flaco Jiminez (Texas Tornadoes); Rusty Weir; Steven Fromholz; Ryan Bingham; Tish Hinojosa; Billy Joe Shaver; Willie Nelson and more ("If I told who all I've worked with it would sound like I can't keep a job,"). Adept on guitar as well as electric and upright bass, his performance and recording career is extensive. Since 1996 Price has toured Europe over two dozen times, performing in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy. Along the way his "never met a stranger" personality has garnered many dear friends in all corners. 

(Photo: Donnie Price, Texas based multitalented artist)

Other than music, other passions include photography and cooking- he has finished a pilot for 'Texas Cookin',  a celebrity cooking series with guest stars Cody and Willy Braun  from Reckless Kelly, which Donnie created and co-stars with Paula Reynolds, and is produced and directed by his daughter, Taylor Price. Acting and hosting are a couple other interests of Donnie's, having had a few speaking and background parts in local indie films and commercials, as well as hosting online and live interview series' where his "never met a stranger" personality comes through again to make his guests comfortable and open.                                                                                                                          

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the music influenced your views of the world? What characterizes your music philosophy?

Music has definitely influenced my views of the world in a very positive manner-- mainly through being able to tour internationally. I've met and have become friends with so many people in other countries, other cultures, and it's an eye-opener to the fact that we're all different but also all the same, if that makes any sense. Different languages, different gods, different ideals, but we all bleed red. We all miss someone.

I'm not sure I have a music philosophy. Know your parts and show up on time. Is that a philosophy?

Why do you think that the Texas music scene continues to generate such a devoted following?

I think it's due to the fact that there are no rules, really. These artists are, for the most part, writing and playing from the heart, and saying and playing what they damn well please, and not looking at spreadsheets and sales projections, etc. Nor do styles or genres come into play. Country, blues, soul, zydeco, jazz, conjunto-- they're all the same. If the lyrics or musicality resonate, and/or if you can dance to it, drink to it, make love to it-- it's all fair game. Something like that can't help but be infectious. And Texas has the best audiences in the world; the same thing applies: if it's good, it doesn't matter the genre, there is an appreciation for your effort.

"Well, recorded music is readily available, so there's nothing really to miss. I feel that some people get caught up in the music of the past so much they don't grow musically, but if that's their bag, so be it. And we all know there's a lot of crap out there. But, other than at the grocery store, we don't have to listen to it. It does generate a lot of money, though, so it must be filling a void for a lot of people. My fears for the future are...let's just say I hope for the best." (Donnie Price / Photo by Christ Bigot)

What moment changed your life the most? What's been the highlights in your life and career so far?

I'd have to say my first European tour changed my life, and snowballed into the lives of others as well. A great western swing writer/singer by the name of Don McCalister, who has since passed on, was putting a band together for a tour in '96, and thanks to recommendations by some very-well respected Texas musicians I got the gig. There I met two key people-- Fabrizio Poggi in Italy and Irene Schmidt in Switzerland. Between the two of them we got the ball rolling and I've been lucky enough to tour Europe over two dozen times with several different acts since then. And as stated above, has led to lifelong dear friends and unforgettable memories.  

As far as life highlights go, being the father of an amazingly wonderful young woman takes the cake. No comparison to anything else in the world.

Career highlights would have to be getting to play with-- and being friends with-- some of my heroes. Woulda' thunk it?

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you?

Again, I've met, played with, and became friends with so many heroes and legends over the years that it would be hard to pinpoint any meetings in particular-- there have been so many important experiences for me. I think of myself as the Forest Gump of Texas music--I've managed to stumble into some amazing shit, and I'm unapologetic about it. Ha!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future?

Well, recorded music is readily available, so there's nothing really to miss. I feel that some people get caught up in the music of the past so much they don't grow musically, but if that's their bag, so be it. And we all know there's a lot of crap out there. But, other than at the grocery store, we don't have to listen to it. It does generate a lot of money, though, so it must be filling a void for a lot of people.

My fears for the future are...let's just say I hope for the best.

"Music has definitely influenced my views of the world in a very positive manner-- mainly through being able to tour internationally. I've met and have become friends with so many people in other countries, other cultures, and it's an eye-opener to the fact that we're all different but also all the same, if that makes any sense. Different languages, different gods, different ideals, but we all bleed red. We all miss someone." (Donnie Price / Photo by Piera Elli)

Life is more than just music, is there any other field that has influence on your life and music? Happiness is…

I have been getting into acting lately. Nothing major, but there are many independent filmmakers around these parts doing great work, and I've been having a lot of fun with them. I've been everything from a cop to a hot dog eating champion to a serial killer, and everything in between. As in music, bringing someone's imagination on paper to life is very satisfying, and it's amazing how much work goes into it. And like making music, it's a team endeavor.

Happiness is simply being alive and being able to appreciate what a gift it is to experience all life has to offer. As the great Stephen Bruton wrote: "Every day above ground is just too good to be true."

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? 

I'm not sure where it came from originally, but the advice I continually give myself is don't overplay. As the great Johnny Gimble once said, "If you're busy---you won't be.

Any plans for the future?

Yes indeed-- keep on keeping on the best I can, and I'm ready for some forward momentum. After sitting still since the pandemic we finally have another European tour in the works for 2025 with a fantastic blues singer/harmonica player by the name of Rob Roy Parnell. You can usually find him on tour with his brother Lee Roy Parnell, but he can't seem to deny the itch to do his own thing, and we're getting great response. So-- old and new friends-- watch for us at festivals and venues over there. We'll be coming at you!

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experiences in the music paths and life?

I'm not sure I've learned a damn thing. Be polite? Try to be tolerant of situations and others? Eat my vegetables?

"Happiness is simply being alive and being able to appreciate what a gift it is to experience all life has to offer. As the great Stephen Bruton wrote: "Every day above ground is just too good to be true.""

(Photo: Donnie Price wih Willie Nelson & Flaco Jiminez)

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

My travels have confirmed to me that music brings people together in ways that politics, culture or religion never can. I was in Austin, Texas in the early 70s when Willie Nelson brought the hippies and rednecks together. It was amazing. And I was blown away when I first went to Italy to find people who understood no English were huge Townes Van Zandt fans. As long as music can continue to lead the way to our similarities as opposed to our differences there may be hope. We'll see.

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