The Midwest old-time, Cajun, and Scandinavian traditional music communities mourn the passing of Minneapolis harmonica and guitar player Myron Price, who succumbed to cancer in May. He was 66.
Many old-time musicians will recall Myron from visits to Swannanoa, North Carolina; the Fiddle Tunes festival in Port Townsend, Washington; and his long attendance at Minnesota’s Bluff Country Gathering. Although he studied Eastern European history and languages in Chicago colleges when he was younger, his first love was “the music.” Never much of a camper, he would take a room near a festival, spending time jamming and celebrating the music.
Myron was known for his encyclopedic memory of old-time tunes and songs, having learned them as a part of his folk music days performing in Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin, coffeehouses in the 1970s. Fred Campeau remembers listening to LPs of country blues, Cajun, and old-time masters with Myron during those formative years. That old-time and folk combination was the wellspring for the 1981 children’s LP In Came That Rooster (Travelers Records) he and eight other Midwest musicians released. After moving to Minneapolis with his partner, Sarah, he played in Cajun and Scandinavian bands and did a stint in the house band for the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers. He settled into playing guitar and harmonica for the Gritpickers, with whom he recorded his second album, Harmony Grits.
After leaving Target’s employment, he spent his time seeing movies, finishing the requirements for his degree, reading books, playing music and enjoying his friends. Told of his cancer, he spent his remaining months celebrating life with friends, playing his harmonica and jamming in hospital rooms and hospices. It was not unusual for visiting musicians to end a tune in his hospice room to the applause of staff and other patients.
A celebration of Myron’s life is planned for the spring in the Twin Cities.