A Conversation Between Margo Price and Widespread Panic’s John Bell

One of three newly-announced artist pairings at Virginia’s Lockn’ Festival, Price and the Widespread Panic frontman interview each other for G&G

photo: Courtesy of Lockn Festival. Left, Josh Timmermans. Right, Jay Blakesberg

From left: Margo Price at Lockn' 2017; John Bell of Widespread Panic at Lockn' 2014.

Since its founding in 2013, the jam band and bluegrass-heavy Lockn’ Festival in Arrington, Virginia, has built a reputation as one of the South’s best music fests thanks, in large part, to its thoughtful on-stage collaborations between musicians. Headliners play multiple sets throughout the festival, allowing guests to side-step schedule conflicts and top-tier artists to take the stage together for one-in-a-lifetime musical moments, like last year’s pairings of the Avett Brothers with the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and Gov’t Mule with Ann Wilson of Heart.

As fans gear up for this year’s festival (August 23-26), G&G has word on three previously unannounced pairings: Taj Mahal will join reggae heroes Toots & the Maytals; Eric Krasno joins the lineup for a set with Lettuce to honor Jerry Garcia Band; and Margo Price returns to the festival for another year to perform with jam-scene vets Widespread Panic.

Courtesy of Lockn’ FEstival

If these lineup announcements sound like reason enough to buy a ticket and pack a bag (a see-through one, per the fest’s new security rules), stick around: In anticipation of their on-stage collaboration, Widespread Panic’s John Bell and Price interviewed each other exclusively for G&G—five questions each, spanning childhood memories, desert-island albums, down-time hobbies, and more.


John Bell: Do you have a memory of your first musical experience—really early, before age five?
Margo Price: My parents bought me a children’s record player when I was three or four years old. I had a bunch of children’s albums, mostly the Muppets, that I would put on and sing and dance around the room. I loved entertaining, even back then.

Bell: For your approach to songwriting, do you wait for inspiration, or set out with the intention of creating—or both?
Price: I try to write a little bit every day. My husband Jeremy and I co-write a lot. We are always kicking around an idea, and encouraging each other to finish songs.

Bell: How does collaboration with another artist fit into your process?
Price: I really love to sing and harmonize with other musicians. I’ve been very lucky, in that all of the people I collaborate with are folks who I respect and admire greatly. I don’t think I would be able to perform with someone I didn’t feel a musical connection with.

Bell: Any non-music related hobbies or activities that are a regular part of the “Margo Life?”
Price: Yes! I love to go fishing, camping, swimming and hiking—anything outdoors. I recently started gardening again, and it’s been really therapeutic. I just moved north of town, and have about five acres of land, a cattle dog, a one-eyed cat, and a bunch of chickens. They all keep me on my toes.

Bell: Favorite things: book, movie, TV series, album, and food.
Favorite book: Leonard Cohen, The Favorite Game. Favorite movie: The Wizard of Oz. TV series is a toss-up between Mad Men and Better Call Saul, which I’ve recently been watching. Favorite album: Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde. Favorite food: Fried chicken and champagne. If I was ever on death row, that would be my last meal.

Watch: A G&G Back Porch Session with Margo Price

Margo Price: When did you first know you wanted to be a musician?

John Bell: Trick question! I think I’m more of a band member than musician. I do remember pretending to perform in front of my kindergarten class with my dad’s huge guitar—don’t know where that inspiration came from. Maybe past life stuff. When I started playing with Mikey [Houser] in college, that’s when I knew that sharing the music and playing off each other offered so much more than doing the troubadour thing.


Price: What are the five albums you’d bring if you were stranded on a desert island?

Bell: No Guru, No Method, No Teacher, by Van Morrison; Dark Side of the Moon, by Pink Floyd; Grace by Jeff Buckley; Rant In E Minor by Bill Hicks; and Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits.


Price: What’s your favorite thing to do other than play music?

Bell: Hanging with [my wife] Laura. Unfortunately, I also watch a lot of TV. When I’m not doing that, I garden, play golf, and read. And… I like Christmas.


Price: What’s the best place you have ever traveled?

Bell: Northern Ireland with my Dad. We visited the town my ancestors sailed from (to the U.S.) in 1705—way before Scotch-Irish immigration was all the rage.


Price: What’s your least favorite thing about the road?

Bell: Leaving home. You can’t beat a family walk with the dog.

Watch: A G&G Back Porch Session with Widespread Panic