The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Real Music - Girl With No Name - April 2016


Real Music - Girl With No Name - April 2016

by Robert Feuer

She doesn’t know her given name. She doesn’t know her birthday. She doesn’t know who her birth parents are.

These are the hard facts about Lara Price, who’ll perform what she describes as “R&B/soul with a retro feel” at Sebastopol’s Apple Blossom Festival. Patrick Sweany and the Peterson Brothers are also on the bill in Ives Park on April 17.

Price, born in Vietnam, was abandoned at birth, during the tail-end of the Vietnam War (called the American War in Vietnam) in 1975. As to the details of her abandonment, Price says during a phone interview, “I’ve asked myself my whole life.” Operation Baby Lift, a lot of good-hearted, well-intentioned volunteers from all over the world, facilitated her rescue. Still, 90% of the babies didn’t survive. “It was a terrible time, it was war.” 

With U.S. aid, she arrived from a Vietnamese orphanage at the Presidio, at an estimated four to five weeks of age, one of hundreds of babies. Eventually, she was adopted by an Air Force family, who picked her up, sight unseen, at an L.A. airport. Thus began a somewhat nomadic existence with her military family, including moves to Alaska, England, and Boise, Idaho. Along the way she learned piano, voice (including operatic), and dance (including ballet). “Dance sold me on music. That’s how I found out how to feel music in my bones.”

Price moved to San Jose in 1998, with a dream of pursuing a musical career. “Blues embraced me,” she says. While working a full-time job, she attended blues jams at night, sometimes working there as a cocktail waitress to meet musicians. Shortly, she was running her own blues band. 

Now she’s “at the helm” of several bands, as bandleader, manager, and booking agent, including an acoustic duo, a reggae group, and a ten-piece all-girl band, Girls Got the Blues, for larger shows. Price thinks of herself as a businesswoman. “I have a lot of products to offer that will fit different scenarios in the entertainment world.”

Asked how being a woman affected her in the male-dominated blues scene, Price says, “Women have it both ways. It’s challenging to break into a boy’s club, but it also can be helpful if you can play the games. I didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Price, at Apple Blossom, once again organized by standout KRSH deejay Bill Bowker, will be singing and playing rhythm guitar, one of several instruments she’s adept on, while fronting a lead guitarist, a drummer, bassist, keyboardist, and two backup singers. “I know my stuff isn’t traditional blues,” she says, “but I know that I feel the blues.”

Unfortunately, racism cuts many ways. Price, who doesn’t speak their language, has been accepted by few in America’s Vietnamese community. “My people aren’t the Vietnamese people. My people are my family, friends, my colleagues – the people who love me.”

 Price has a name now, one that keeps growing larger on theater and nightclub marquees.

More info at and