Part of paying yours dues as a musician always seems to involve abasing yourself at open-mic nights, where you wait and wait for the privilege of playing a couple of songs while hoping somebody sticks around to hear them. That’s the gist of Philip B. Price’s video for “C’mon World,” the first single from “Bone Almanac,” the Northampton singer’s first solo album since 2004. (He’s kept fairly busy in the intervening years as the lead singer and principal songwriter for Winterpills, which formed in 2003.)
Price wrote and directed the “C’mon World” clip, drawing on a love of David Lynch and Ingmar Bergman. The video opens with him striding through an eerie, empty streetscape before finding the practically hidden open-mic venue. He signs up, takes a seat and settles in for the parade of acts that come before him, portrayed by a rich cross-section of the Northampton music scene: Kaliis Smith, Dennis Crommett (in the role of a lifetime as Freddy Cukes), the comedy stylings of Matt Silberstein, local video star Andy Goulet in western duds, Lesa Bezo with butterfly friend, and the omnipresent Henning Ohlenbusch. As Price waits, reality starts to bend and warp, and by the time he finally takes the stage, there’s only one spectator left, and it’s not one you’d want hanging around.
“While the song itself is about sort of bigger-picture disappointments, I thought it would be fun in the video to zero in on the idea of the absurd struggle against invisibility in the arts,” Price says. “And for a musician, what better real-life metaphor than the ubiquitous open mic night?”
The concept came from a combination of “the weirdest open-mic scenarios my sleep-deprived brain could conjure” and his own experiences over the years: “The getting of the last slot, sitting through endless other musicians, poets, comedians and other artists of extremely variable quality; the certain fatigue that sets in; the special kind of stage fright. Then finally getting to your slot and the room is empty. But along the way, the people on stage change, morph into other things, become characters in your own internal dramas, and something rather menacing emerges.”
Price recorded “Bone Almanac” with Justin Pizzoferrato (Speedy Ortiz, the Pixies, Kim Gordon) at Sonelab Studios in Easthampton, playing all the instruments himself on 14 songs. The new album follows the re-release in 2017 of 12 albums from Price’s solo catalog dating back to 1988, along with a compendium, “Without Your Love I'd Be Nowhere at All: Best of the Solo Archives, 1988-2004,” which is available on Bandcamp (and well worth the time). “Bone Almanac” is out Nov. 8 on Signature Sounds, and is available for pre-order from the label here, or from your digital provider of choice here.