July 29, 1997
Story by Tony BonyataA tall, slender, forty-something white woman, wearing a green sleeveless silk blouse with a short black skirt covering a fraction of her endlessly long legs, is hardly what you'd expect a road-weary southern blues artist to look like, but last week at the Harmony Bar and Grill in Madison Marcia Ball proved that heart-felt Texas blues as well as rousing New Orleans-style boogie woogie rock can come in a pretty package.
Photo Courtesy of Johnny Medina
Ball's powerful voice and piano style evoked the heart of Louisiana where she was raised, while her current home of Austin, Texas helped kicked a heapful of western swing into her music.
A good portion of the evening showcased Ball, along with her tight band, performing songs off her latest album, Let Me Play With Your Poodle on Rounder Records. Songs such as "Crawfishin" and Chicago bluesman Tampa Red's "Let Me Play With Your Poodle" had the crowd in a near frenzy with the band's rollicking rhythms and party house lyrics. The slowed-down tempos of the Austin blues-flavored numbers, "How Big A Fool", "Why Women Cry" and Delbert McClinton's "Can't Trust My Heart" did, however, manage to temper the raucous Madison crowd temporarily.
The highlights of the evening were Ball's signature covers of Professor Longhair's "Red Beans", "In The Wee Wee Hours" and her self-penned "That's Enough Of That Stuff", a favorite at Mardi Gras since it's release in 1985. These songs featured Ball belting out the lyrics in barrelhouse-fashion, while resurrecting the ghosts of New Orleans piano legends, James Booker, Tuts Washington and Longhair through her nimble fingers on her electric piano. Seated at the keyboards with her legs crossed, her right leg swung back and forth in time, throughout the night, like some kind of Bourbon Street metronome.
Marcia Ball, a southern star and national treasure, proved she has a musical spirit, as well as a pair of legs, that just won't quit
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