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Marcia Ball

Pianist and singer/songwriter Marcia Ball is a living example of how East Texas blues meets southwest Louisiana swamp rock. Ball was born March 20, 1949, in Orange, Texas, but grew up across the border in Vinton, Louisiana. That town is squarely in the heart of "the Texas triangle," an area that includes portions of both states and that has produced some of the country's greatest blues talents: Janis Joplin, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Queen Ida Guillory, Lonnie Brooks, Zachary Richard, Clifton Chenier, and Kenny Neal, to name a few. Ball's earliest awareness of blues came over the radio, where she heard people like Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair, and Etta James, all of whom she now credits as influences. She began playing piano at age five, learning from her grandmother and aunt and also taking formal lessons from a teacher.

Ball entered Louisiana State University in the late '60s as an English major. In college, she played in the psychedelic rock & roll band Gum. In 1970, Ball and her first husband were headed West in their car to San Francisco, but the car needed repairs in Austin, where they had stopped off to visit one of their former bandmates. After hearing, seeing, and tasting some of the music, sights, and food in Austin, the two decided to stay there. Ball has been based in Austin ever since.

Her piano style, which mixes equal parts boogie-woogie with zydeco and Louisiana swamp rock, is best exemplified on her series of excellent recordings for the Rounder label. They include Soulful Dress (1983), Hot Tamale Baby (1985), Gatorhythms (1989), and Blue House (1994). Also worthy of checking out is her collaboration with Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton on the Antone's label, Dreams Come True (1990). Ball, like her peer Strehli, is an educated business woman fully aware of all the realities of the record business. Ball never records until she feels she's got a batch of top-notch, quality songs. Most of the songs on her albums are her own creations, so songwriting is a big part of her job description.

Although Ball is a splendid piano player and a more than adequate vocalist, "the songwriting process is the most fulfilling part of the whole deal for me," she said in a 1994 interview, "so I always keep my ears and eyes open for things I might hear or see....I like my songs to go back to blues in some fashion." As much a student of the music as she is a player, some of Ball's albums include covers of material by O.V. Wright, Dr. John, Joe Ely, Clifton Chenier, and Shirley & Lee.

In the late '90s, Ball released her final discs under the Rounder banner, Let Me Play with Your Poodle (1997) and Sing It! (1998). The latter featured Ball with Irma Thomas and Tracy Nelson utilizing both solo and combined energy that generated much exposure for all three women, as it was nominated for both a Grammy and a W.C. Handy Blues Award as Best Contemporary Blues Album. Ironically, while both of Ball's final Rounder releases were critically acclaimed, she signed with Alligator Records in 2000 and released her first album for the label, Presumed Innocent, in 2001. Ball, fully established as an important player in the club scenes of both New Orleans and Austin, continues to work at festivals and clubs throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. She followed up her debut recording for Alligator with the similarly fine So Many Rivers in 2003 and a live album, Down the Road, in 2005. Peace, Love & BBQ appeared in 2008. Roadside Attractions, produced by Gary Nicholson, appeared in the spring of 2011, also on Alligator. ~ Richard Skelly & Al Campbell, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

fr.richardgr e e n
This woman is the Real Deal. Since her days in Freda and the Firedogs in Austin I have been a fan...and she has never let her fame take away her deep humanity.
Have seen Marcia numerous times. She makes it through Norman, Oklahoma and the Historic Sooner Theatre on a pretty regular basis. Always sells out the house and NEVER disappoints! Catch her act if you ever get the chance; you'll definitely be glad you did. Marcia, come back to Norman soon. We'll put some Red Beans & Rice on!
She is great I have every cd she's done saw her 3 times and will see her again if she is near me. I think she is a great song writer but her piano playing is extraordinar y . Michigan loves her too
oldsalt_1942
In the 10 years I lived in New Orleans (WAY pre-Katrina) I went to see Marcia every time she came to play at Tipitina's. The last time I saw her I dragged several of my friends to see her perform at the beach in Hollywood, FL on Mardi Gras evening. They came away fans!
Have seen several shows in Colorado - always a great treat. Such energy!
she's a sweetheart luv this girl me
Saw her first time in So. Beach-the Talkhouse aboutm11 yrs ago then the talkhouse in the Hamptons also on a cruise around Manhattan island-She is always great and how about her bassist. I Adore her personally she is a wonderful lady. Kathleen Beggs
I've seen Marcia numerous times since first in 1995 including 4 times in 2000 (one of the times at k mart in Metairie , La while shopping for cheap shoes with friends to navigate mud at the fairgrounds) She was most gracious and a top performer.
Saw her in Hampton Va on New Years Eve 2012 and she was great and her band was equally great.
also saw her this summer in BR,LA up front, first row...the only place!!!!Dor e e n B
Just saw Ms Ball at the Crescent City (free)Blues and Barbecue Festival with my friends from Australia after also seeing her (freeg her
Saw her once in Casper, WY. She was AMAZING; especially how she kept her high-heeled shoe on her big toe throught the whole show. Even when was boogiein' the hardest, it never came off once.
Nothing I can say about her talents that have not been said before, She really makes me proud and I know she did for her Dad, my dear friend.
Love you and our Lousiana Paradise sounds.
An Old friend,
Vance Droddy
LOVED HER playing at the chenango blues fest in norwich, new york last year!
I've seen her 26 times ( one of my friends said after 20 shows, you are no longer a groupie, you're a stalker)I have never seen a bad show. She just Plays & plays.I've seen her play for 45mins. take a 15min. break come back ,plays a full hour, take a 15min break, play another hour and 30 mins.Then come back and play an hour encore. No one sings a love song like Marcia ( we are on a first name basis now) So personable. You have to see her.
We saw her in Jackson Ms several years ago. What a show she went non stop no pause between song xcept a ahort intro on some of them.. You have to see her show to appreciate
Me too. Heard her at Jazzfest in New Orleans for the first time. Awesome.
dojigger
She is great.....i just discovered her...
sjean07
Dont
miss her concert if in your area. They are just great. What fun.
sj
Marcia Ball rocks on the piano..gotta see her LIVE..a truly great experience..
andymars100
Her live concerts are a great experience! You haven't lived fully until you see Marcia performed.
hobbithodgki n s o n
Best heard Live, Like in New Orleans at the Jazz Fest!
A true artist that is actually better seen live than recorded.
3+ hours of Marcia B in Lowell, MA last night still resonating in my heart & soul! Bold, sweet + spicy, not to mention the music!!!
sue.ribeiro
yeah-Marcia is coming to the east coast next week-will see her at Ninegret!her concert rocks
bradgdavis
Love her music....she shares my birthday (not the year) and I love to play the piano blues as well.....wis h I could play with her band sometime! That would be awesome!
deconrad
Small town girl makes good (from my home town). Fabulous performer and really puts on a great show. I try to see her every time she's in the area. Her music just makes you smile and want to boogie.
Many of the greatest tracks ever recorded by Marcia Ball, and these are truly great, are found on a sequence of CDs issued by Rounder Records, starting in 1989. One in particular is entitled "Gatorhythms " These should not be excluded from any Marcia Ball discography.
aconrard5
this is hot!
davidmay7
I saw her perform twice at Roxy's in Wichita KS and loved her and her sound ever since. She is as much fun to watch perform as her music is to hear.
susie281
Heard her for the first time about 7 years ago in the DC area. WOW! Definitely gets your feet moving.
cjredd
One of the best live artists I have ever seen. If she is anywhere near your town, you need to see her live. She will get the most reluctant dancers on their feet. She's not called the Swamp Boogie Queen for nothin'.
Fantastic Musician! Just listened to her at the New Orleans Jazz Fest and was just as good as the first time I heard her!
magruver
'LOVE HER MUSIC'...... . . AWESOME LADY !!!!!!!!!!!! !
Marcia is great live, get ready to dance. She is truly a national treasure. I love the songs that she has written as well as her cover choices. She always picks me up and never lets me down. When can we expect another Marcia Ball, Irma Thomas, and Tracy Nelson ensemble set?
Wonderful music. When she comes to KC, go to Knuckleheads for a great evening.
Awesome pianist. Love her music

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