Marcia Ball is a piano-playing neck-breaker from Orange, Texas, who tickles the ivories in a raucous barrelhouse style. Her voice has just enough of that roadhouse weariness to make her all the more enchanting and legit as her band summons the crowd with its boss back beat and shuffle.
But Ball isn't boastful when it comes to her singing and piano playing.
"I've always said my piano playing is just good enough to accompany my singing," Ball says over a cell phone from a tour stop in New Orleans. "And my singing is just good enough to accompany my piano playing." She credits her grandmother for lighting the fuse.
Born near the Louisiana line, Ball grew up on the greats like Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Ray Charles by default.
"Because that's what you heard everywhere," she says. "I really always liked the Memphis sound, you know, soul music, like the sound that came out of Houston in the late 1950's — Duke Records and Peacock Records, Bobby Bland, Albert Collins, Lightnin' Hopkins. Where I grew up, it was big soul country, big horn bands, guys like Gatemouth Brown."
Ball soaked it all in alongside a new generation of rockers with a new found freedom.
"It wasn't the dream of most parents of my parents' generation that their child become a musician," Ball says. "But that's what happened in my case. The mystery of making music and recording kind of fell away. And with the coming of The Rolling Stones we figured if those scruffy guys from Great Britain could put together a band and go out into the world, maybe all of us could, too, if we wanted to give it a shot. And in the late 1960's and early 1970's a lot of people did. In turn, my generation raised kids with the hope that they would play music. There are still a lot of fathers out there who think they have the next Stevie Ray Vaughan."
It's not that there aren't things to be done, Ball just doesn't have a bucket list. She's grateful for what she has and what she does with it.
"I'm just fortunate to be able to keep on keeping on," she says. "To keep doing what I love. I love playing. I love getting in the van and going to the gig."
Marcia Ball will perform Wednesday, June 28, at Harro East Ballroom, 155 North Chestnut Street. 5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $30, or you can use your Club Pass. facebook.com/marciaballband.