Marcia Ball Band

Saturday, Jan 4, 2025
at 7:00pm
  On Sale to Members Only

Billboard called her “a killer pianist and a great singer/songwriter with potent blues, sweet zydeco, soulful, and fast and furious Texas boogie. She’s heartfelt, powerful and righteous.”

In a storied career that includes being named 2018 Texas State Musician of the Year by the Texas State Legislature, Marcia Ball has won worldwide fame and countless fans for her ability to ignite a full-scale roadhouse rhythm and blues party every time she takes the stage. It’s been a rollicking ride with no end in sight. “Fifty years have passed in a flash,” she said.

Ball was born in Orange, Texas, in 1949 to a family whose female members all played the piano. She grew up in Vinton, Louisiana, just across the Texas border, and began taking piano lessons when she was 5, playing old Tin Pan Alley and popular music tunes from her grandmother’s collection. It wasn’t until she was 13 that she discovered the power of soul music. In New Orleans in 1962, she sat amazed as Irma Thomas delivered the most spirited and moving performance the young teen had seen. A few years later, she attended Louisiana State University, where she played some of her first gigs with a blues-based rock group called Gum.

In 1970, Ball set off for San Francisco, but her car broke down in Austin. She fell in love with the city and decided to stay. Soon, she was performing with a progressive country band called Freda and the Firedogs while beginning to sharpen her songwriting skills. She began to delve into the music of the great New Orleans piano players, especially Professor Longhair. “Once I found out about Professor Longhair, I knew I had found my direction,” she recalled.

When Freda and the Firedogs broke up, Ball launched a solo career, playing clubs and signing with Capitol Records. She released six critically acclaimed titles on the Rounder label in the 1980s and 1990s and at the end of 1997, finished work in a “three divas of the blues” project with Tracy Nelson and her inspiration, Irma Thomas. The CD, Sing it! was nominated for a Grammy.

Marcia Ball has appeared on the PBS special, In Performance at the White House, along with B.B. King and Della Reese, on Austin City Limits, and HBO’s Treme. She was included in Martin Scorsese’s The Blues series on PBS and appeared on NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas, live from the Kennedy Center.

Ball has received many honors, including the 2002 Blues Music Award for Best Blues Album of the Year for Presumed Innocent. Her follow-up, So Many Rivers, was nominated for a Grammy and won the 2004 Blues Female Artist of the Year. She holds 10 Blues Music Awards, 10 Living Blues Awards, five Grammy nominations and she has been inducted into both the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Of her most recent album, Shine Bright, she set out to “Make the best Marcia Ball record I could make.” The album contains 12 songs, including nine originals, and deals with the humorous, the serious and even the political. It’s exactly the album she set out to make, upbeat and positive, even with some serious content. “It is a ridiculously hopeful, cheerful record,” she said. “The secret is to set the political songs to a good dance beat.”

Ball loves taking her party on the road, playing new songs and old favorites for fans around the globe. With both her albums and legendary live performances, she shines a light into the darkness, making the world a brighter place, one song at a time. “I still love the feel of the wheels rolling and the energy in a room full of people ready to go wherever it is we take them,” she said.

Ball has had praise heaped upon her but her hometown paper, The Austin Chronicle summed it up best: “What’s not to like about Marcia Ball?”