Sam Price and the True Believers celebrate the release of Dragonfly at the Maple Leaf Bar, 3/9

With everything bassist, vocalist, and songwriter Sam Price has on his musical plate, it’s amazing he has time for yet another band. But Sam Price and the True Believers is the group that allows him to fulfill his goals as a songwriter in ways that differ from his work with the roots rock of the Honey Island Swamp Band and the Cuban dance band Otra.

Price celebrates the release of Dragonfly on Saturday night at the Maple Leaf Bar. It’s also his 50th birthday and he expects numerous special guests including Papa Mali, Mikayla Braun, Dale Spalding and more.

Dragonfly represents another step in the growth of Price as a songwriter and vocalist. While the True Believers’ first release was an EP, this recording is a fully realized album with ace production from Papa Mali as well as contributions from several well-known local players. An earlier step in that direction after the EP was the release of the single, “We Believe,” which is the band’s theme song or perhaps mission statement. The video is above.

At the top of the list of special guests on Dragonfly is recently deceased guitarist Todd Duke who takes a stellar lead guitar solo on “Old Jim Crow.” The topical song addresses the return of a way of thinking that defined a twisted era in American history. “Old Jim Crow I thought we had you beat, now you’re walking and talking up and down my street.”

Dirty Dozen Brass Band leader Gregory Davis also adds some mournful, muted trumpet on the tune. The song is hopeful as well with the refrain proclaiming, “Old Jim Crow, don’t you know, it’s all over now.”

“Just in Case” is a ballad that features understated acoustic guitar work from Mali as well as some great harmonica playing from a newcomer to these ears, Dale Spaulding. Price’s vocals expertly capture the world-weariness of a protagonist hoping against hope for a change of mind.

The album closes with “I’ll Meet You There”—a gospel-inspired ballad dedicated to the memory of Todd Duke complete with churchy backing vocals and organ and soaring sax from Tom Fitzpatrick. Duke and Price came up together in the music scene going back to high school and were close friends.

It’s a fitting closing to an album that’s as full of hope as it is of memory. Dragonfly is a clearly distilled reflection of the musical life of a 50-year old still full of the idealism of youth while looking back with a touch of wistfulness.

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