Something Else! Featured Artist: Marcia Ball

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 by Nick DeRiso

One of her best Rounder releases, and hilariously named, is “Let Me Play With Your Poodle.”

Featured is legendary guitar virtuoso Clarence Holliman, the guy who burned through Bobby “Blue” Bland’s classic 1950s and ’60 sessions.

In fact, the old album titles tell it best, when talking about Marcia Ball: “Hot Tamale Baby.” “Gatorhythms.” “Sing It!”

Ball started out doing a progessive country thing down in Austin, famously leading the original edition of Freda and the Firedogs. She was signed to Capitol early on, recorded for Antone’s and then Rounder.

But she made her bones hitting town and after town, spreading the good-time gospel. In fact, on the concert circuit, it’s Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. (Thus, her debut LP, 1978’s “Circuit Queen.”)

She’s also appeared at virtually every major festival in Europe and the U.S.

That doesn’t mean she isn’t shaking up saloons left and right. And getting awards day and night.

Ball received the 1998 Handy Award for contemporary female vocalist of the year and was nominated again in 1999 for that award and blues intrumentalist on keyboards. She was nominated for both a Grammy and a Handy for best contemporary blues album for her work on “Sing It” with Irma Thomas and Tracy Nelson.

Ball made her Cajun French-singing debut on “Les Blues de Bosco,” a tune she recorded with Cajun country legends the Hackberry Ramblers on their “Deep Water” album.

Born in the soupy mess of the Gulf Coast, she soaked up all that region’s cool-rocking influences. This is a cultural frontier with trails banged out by Gatemouth Brown, George Jones, Janis Joplin, Clifton Chenier, Joe Bonsall and the blues-banging Winter brothers — all of ’em washed up from those muddy beaches.

That little run from Lafayette to Galveston has every great American music genre bubbling up from swamps on either side of I-10: Country, straight rock, blues, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, rockabilly and pop. Check the ingredients on the side of any Marcia Ball record and you’ll see: It’s in there.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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