No one was sure of what to think before the most recent South Side event. A violinist playing pop songs? Memories of failed elementary and middle school music lessons haunted the students’ minds, but due to the recent popularity of more obscure groups such as the acapella group Pentatonix and fellow violinist Lindsey Stirling, South Side’s regulars gave Rhett Price a try. Within two songs, the café was full and every eye and phone in the room was angled towards this newly discovered musician. The games went untouched, movement was scarce, and everyone in the room remained in sustained silence in anticipation of Price’s next notes.
“Southside has never been like this before — but we like it.” Olivia McEvoy ‘19 observed after just listening to Price tune his violin. When the show began, her opinion didn’t change and others who attended the performance were in complete agreement. Price played numerous songs, some pop, some hip hop, but each one held the crowd captivated. “The performance was pure talent. If I have the opportunity, I would see him perform again,” remarked Nick Trewartha ’20. “I liked when he gave a shout out to his college friend, Charlie Puth, and performed [Puth’s] single ‘See You Again.’”
Price also played crowd favorites such as “Again” by Fetty Wap – which created the joke of the night, as no one could tell if he had played the “clean” or “explicit” version since there were no lyrics —”Cheerleader” by Omi and Haddaway’s “What is Love,” among many others before he wrapped up his show with his personal favorite, “Pony” by Ginuwine.
In between his songs, Price took moments to tell an eager audience anecdotes about his past concerts as well as his life. One such anecdote was about the best career advice he had received, which came from John Mayer’s saxophone player and Price’s saxophone teacher, Bob Reynolds. “One time I asked [Bob Reynolds] if he had any advice for making [music] professionally and he asked me immediately, ‘What’s your backup plan?’ I responded that I didn’t have one, that I just wanted to make music, and he responded, ‘Good. Then you’ll be successful.’”
A 27-year-old Texas native, Price spent a year studying at the University of Berkeley where he met and trained with stars of the music industry, such as his friend Charlie Puth, before he found himself homeless and playing in the subway to afford food. By posting videos on his YouTube channel, he was slowly able to save some money and eventually purchase a small apartment. Then, in one last effort to make his musical career succeed, he used his last $300 to pay a Boston film student to record him playing Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” By the end of the week, he was a YouTube star. “It doesn’t matter what your parents or your peers are saying. If you work hard and don’t listen to naysayers — you can do anything,” said Price.
“You can feel his passion [when he plays]. His aura is positive and happy and he vibes really well with the music,” said Aisha Khan ‘17, a fan of Price who was very excited when she heard he was going to perform at Fairfield. Price created his own success and now has not only played with Fetty Wap, but also has his own album coming out later this year. He spends most of his time either traveling around the United States performing and recording or trying to discover the manufacturer who made his violin. At the end of his performance, he made a swift exit, saying good night and disappearing — leaving his crowd in a state of disbelief, awaiting a song that will never come. This concert was a complete success and Price has now gained himself a number of new fans. “[Rhett] was very talented in his renditions of popular songs,” John McGovern ‘17 enthused, “going beyond simply copying the melody and instead imposing his own style on the song.”