Marcia Ball was born in East Texas, reared in Louisiana, and since the early 1970s has been mixing those region’s sounds to create a musical signature that is part boogie-woogie, part Texas blues, with a touch of the Caribbean influence that defines New Orleans masters like Dr. John and Allen Toussaint.
She got her start in Austin, and points to the late Doug Sahm as a key figure in her own musical exploration.
“Doug had an unerring sense of where the next hip thing was happening,” Ball told the crowd at Jazz, TX during her TPR set earlier this year. Musically, she said, “Doug was like me in that he didn’t recognize a state line between Louisiana and Texas. He loved all of that music. So the West Side Horns to him were just like the Boogie King Horns in the Golden Triangle, and just like Fats Domino’s horns in New Orleans. It was all the same to him.”
Sahm also introduced Marcia Ball to Jerry Wexler, the famed producer for Atlantic Records. Ball was offered a contract, but she recognized it would have been a bad deal, and without a lawyer to help her re-negotiate, the proposed deal fell apart. “It took me about seven years to get another record deal,” she recalled.
Now, Ball has 16 albums to her name. The latest, “Shine Bright,” was released this year.
“It’s actually kind of a ridiculously optimistic, positive, uplifting record, especially considering these times, and how I feel about it,” Ball said. “It’s a bit of an encouragement to people to perform random aggressive acts of good, and do the best we can to make things better.”
In this episode of “Live At Jazz, TX,” Marcia Ball performs “Shine Bright” and “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That” from her new album, as well as classics like “Red Beans” and the randy crowd-pleaser “Let Me Play With Your Poodle.”
Visit Marcia Ball online, and listen to her set Saturday night (August 4) at 7:00 on Texas Public Radio, or get a preview using the audio player below.