Sam Price & the True Believers

Sam Price & the True Believers

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Americana Funk




"2023 Jazz Fest Redux"

Sam Price and the True Believers made true believers out of anyone who had not heard the band play before. Price is best known as the pogoing bassist for the Honey Island Swamp Band, while the True Believers channel his original songs with exuberant energy, which was clearly transmitted to the fans dancing in the hedges at the Lagniappe Stage. With Whitney Alouisious on background vocals, Keiko Komaki on keys and Sage Rouge on saxophone, the band represented a true vision of community, musical joy and infinite love.

—Jay Mazza - Offbeat Magazine

"Wild Things: Music Is The Messenger"

Among the musical cognoscenti of New Orleans, bassist, songwriter and bandleader Sam Price is considered to be one of the most versatile musicians in the city. His talents are spread over three different musical projects.

To a segment of the music-loving population, both locally and across the country, he is best known as the pogoing bassist providing the stellar bottom end, along with drummer Garland Paul, for the Honey Island Swamp Band, a perennial award-winning roots rock ensemble.

To others, he is the bandleader behind the Cuban jazz project Otra where he leads a stellar lineup of instrumentalists and percussionists through a program of songs from the golden era of danceable jazz from the Caribbean nation. (Full disclosure—Otra once played a birthday party for me.)

While Otra only plays sporadically around town due to the busy schedules of its musicians, Price scored a coup—which he said was “twenty years in the making”—when Putumayo Records recently included the band’s jazzy Latin take on the standard “Nature Boy” on the compilation New Orleans Mambo: Cuba to NOLA.

But most recently, Price has been behind a project that may be as close to a full exposition of musical personality as a musician can hope for. Sam Price and the True Believers was formed in 2015 so the singer/bassist could have an outlet for his uplifting original songs rooted in the band’s motto, “Love is the message and music is the messenger.”

Their debut album appeared in 2017 and it was awarded “Best Roots Rock Album” at the Best of the Beat Awards. The follow up, Dragonfly, was produced by acclaimed roots musician Papa Mali and was released in 2019. The band has also released two previous singles, both of which burned up the airwaves on WWOZ and elsewhere.

“We Believe” is an impassioned response to the societal upheaval associated with the Trump presidency. Price said, “The song came to me in a dream. I actually woke up with the melody in my head.” It was 2017 and the True Believers were touring when the “Unite the Right” rally happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed by an enraged white supremacist who intentionally drove his car into a crowd. He said, “Everyone was just shocked and we played the song (that night), and everyone was crying—in the audience and on stage.”

The latest effort from Sam Price and the True Believers will be released as a vinyl 45-RPM single. Side A, “Wild Things,” is an uptempo ode to the joys of camping music festivals and the sense of freedom and community they inspire in the music fans and nature lovers who revel in the experience. Side B is a funky instrumental, a first for the band, called “Periscope,” which, hard as it may be to believe given his long career, features Price’s first-ever recorded bass solo.

While the Wild Things festival in Springfield, Louisiana, which was organized in 2019 by Marc Paradis of Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, was part of the inspiration for the song, “the impetus was brewing in my heart and soul for a long time,” Price said. Paradis is also a co-writer of the tune and plays cello on it.

Price described the feeling at these festivals: “People form little communities, you build a fire, surrounded by nature. You drive into this other world and leave the ‘real world’ behind. You set up camp. There’s something so powerful and humbling and healing about being out in nature. It’s sacred, like the original church, and everyone feels it. We feel reverent.”

He continued talking passionately throughout our phone conversation: “The song is a recognition and a celebration of the intersection of the sacred natural world and the deeply spiritual human expression of music and dance. It makes us feel connected to each other or more aware of the connection to the oneness of all living things.”

“Being out in a forest, surrounded by trees where you’re released from the surroundings of the city. When we go back to the natural world and then you add music—that’s creating something undeniable. You take that almost religious feeling and add a groove to it—a drumbeat—that’s when the wild thing in all of us is released.” - Offbeat Magazine


Songwriting is the key to this gem of a record. Sam has an innate skill to infuse jazz and blues on top a bed of roots rock. Think early Steve Winwood. The arrangements are tight. The vocals are clean(especially the backgrounds) and the lyrics are meaningful. Signature track is “Down to You” which features a killer trumpet solo by Eric Benny Bloom (Lettuce). - WWOZ radio

"Sam Price & The True Believers’ Message Through Music"

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”—Viktor Frankl

These are chaotic and uncertain times. People are struggling physically, emotionally, and financially. Fear, anger and anxiety are running high. It is in this environment that Sam Price and his band, the True Believers, have a message to deliver: “Hold on to your humanity.” This month the band will release their new single, “World Keeps Turning.” True to form, Sam’s lyrics embrace positivity and human connection, and the band delivers the soulful, throwback sound that won them the OffBeat Best of The Beat Award for Best Roots Rock Album in 2017.

Sam is okay with his approach being described as “message music,” because for him, “It’s a simple message. It’s a simple truth, but I think most of the best truths are simple. Treating each other right, with equality, respect, and empathy—I don’t think you can sing about those things too much. Certainly every day we are bombarded with messages to the contrary. There’s a lot of fear and ugliness and hate in the world, and if we can dedicate ourselves to doing our part to counter that with the messages in our songs, we’re all about that.”

Sam’s political awareness picked up steam after he finished high school and enlisted in the Army. “I was stationed in Germany, and I met a man named Darnell Summers, the brother of Headhunters percussionist Bill Summers,” he recalls. “Darnell was a Vietnam vet who opposed the war and resisted from within. He really expanded my mind to a lot of socio-political realities of the world as a young 18- year-old.”

The music of Sam Price and the True Believers is very much in the vein of Curtis Mayfield, and the themes are reminiscent of early 1970’s albums like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions. But Sam’s inspiration to set socially conscious and uplifting lyrics to music came from a more contemporary artist: Michael Franti. “His album, Stay Human, kind of changed my life,” says Price, “and I owe my becoming aware of him at the time I did to my late best friend Todd Duke. I was about to head out on tour with Shannon McNally, an incredible singer-songwriter, one of the best. Todd asked me, ‘Man, have you ever heard Michael Franti?’ And I hadn’t. I listened to Stay Human over and over and over again. Just the way he uses music to celebrate life—both to speak truth to power, and to appeal to everyone’s humanity, kindness and love and brotherhood. “The raised fist in one hand and the peace sign in the other. That’s always what I’ve been about man, both of those things.”

Sam has been a presence on the New Orleans music scene for close to 30 years, most notably as a founding member of the bands OTRA and Honey Island Swamp Band. “I’ve always been a writer, even as a kid, before I started playing bass,” he says. While touring with Honey Island, he started writing lyrics in the back of the van and plotting the configuration of the project which came to be the True Believers. He enjoys the country-blues influence of Honey Island, but when imagining his own band, he always heard it being “a little more on the soul side of things, and groove-oriented, as well as the Latin influence—it’s kind of woven itself into my DNA.”

“The dream was always to have a six-piece band,” says Price. “With so many great musicians in New Orleans, our cup runneth over.” Sam refers to his drummer, Ethan Shorter, as “True Believer Number One.” Besides laying down the groove and adding crucial vocal harmonies, Shorter recruited current guitarist Alex Mallet and singer Whitney Alouisious to join the band. “I wanted a dedicated background singer to provide vocal harmony for that soul sound, and we were very lucky to find Whitney,” says Price. Synthesizer and Hammond organ were also important to Sam’s concept, and for “World Keeps Turning,” Daniel Meinecke mans the keyboards. Finally, Conga Mike rounds out the group, providing the must-have accessory percussion.

As a bassist, Sam typically writes songs from the bottom up, developing bass lines and vocal parts that he can sing while he plays. For the new single, “I had that little bass line and the ‘ooh’ chorus for probably six months, and I wondered, ‘What is this song going to be?’ It seemed like a love song, but I resisted that.” About a month ago, it came to him while sitting in his backyard. “I had kind shut down for the first few weeks of the epidemic, just stunned and overwhelmed by the enormity of this whole reality. I was staying inside more than I should, and listening to the news more than I should, and that can’t help but put you in the state of unease and fear.” Sitting outside, his mood lightened by the breeze and the sun, he allowed himself to meditate and was moved by the notion that “this an unprecedented time on the planet where everyone is going through the same thing at the same time.” The lyrics soon followed:

Lately when these shadows grow long in my mind/

I look out the window and the sun still shines/

I think about a future that nobody knows/

And then I notice that the flowers and the trees still grow.

Sam recorded a scratch track of rhythm and vocals for the song and e-mailed it to his band mates, who created their own parts and shared the files via the internet. It’s a song created out of isolation and recorded virtually for a virtual audience. It also may be the band’s best work. That slinky bass line holds down a simple arrangement, and the solos and comp work from the band serve the song perfectly. On the back half of the tune, Sam sings:

Never have so many hearts beat together in time/

Our survival we seek, humanity we find/

We’re all hurting, but we’re learning, we’re finding our way/

Meanwhile, all the wild things come out to play.

According to Sam, that last line is “a reference to all the wild animals who were beginning to appear during the absence of humans in city streets, towns and parks. All it takes is for people to make themselves scarce for a few weeks, and nature surges back!” He adds, “It’s also a not-very-subtle shout-out to Marc Paradis and all of the ‘wild things’ at the Wild Things Family Reunion Festival.” The cover art for the single is a nod to Abbey Road, but instead of a band crossing the street, there’s a small deer.

Some songwriters set their emotions to music. Others paint a picture or tell a story through song. For Sam Price, it’s about connecting and sharing his outlook with the audience. “It’s message music, but we try to jam too,” he says. “We’re trying to be entertaining and energetic at the same time that we’re trying to uplift and inspire…some people believe that if you change your mental state, you do change your reality, or at least you take the first steps toward changing your reality. And then maybe you’re in a better position to take on the difficulties and challenges you face.”

If you see Sam onstage or even around town, he’ll likely be sporting a shirt or a cap that says “Stay Human.” It’s his homage to Michael Franti as well as a reminder to “hold on to your humanity, against all those other urges to be angry, to see others as an enemy or an adversary or a competitor. Exercising kindness—that really is a revolutionary act.” - Offbeat Magazine


'Sam Price & thew True Believers' (Debut EP) - 2017

'We Believe' (single) - 2018

'Dragonfly' (Album) - 2019

'World Keeps Turning' (single) - 2021

'Wild Things' (single) - 2022

'Buckets of Rain' (single, Bob Dylan cover) - 2024



Bass player/singer Sam Price (Honey Island Swamp Band) presents his own unique vision with a 6-piece band performing original music as well as his arrangements of New Orleans material and classic songs. The music incorporates soulful harmonies featuring female backing vocals, congas and other hand percussion, and the high-flying, Allman Brothers-esque soloing of guitarist Alex Mallet ('Papa' John Gros band). The band's song lyrics emphasize an uplifting, positive outlook that speaks to the interconnectedness of humanity and the undeniable power of Love and kindness to transform. 

Their 2017 debut release was chosen 'Best Roots Rock Album of the Year' by Offbeat Magazine.
The band's first full-length album 'Dragonfly' was produced by Papa Mali.
They are currently in the studio with Anders Osborne working a new record.

Band Members