Rocking the Bosque with Marcia Ball

By Debra Evans

The Bosque Arts Center welcomes legendary rhythm and blues pianist Marcia Ball and her band on Saturday, July 10, at 7 p.m.  Often compared to Fats Domino and Memphis Slim, Ball plans to “rock the Bosque” when she comes to Clifton.

“I have a feeling the Bosque Arts Center is not among the smallest places I have played,” says Ball, when asked her opinion of playing in small settings.  “The intimacy of a show in a smaller venue allows us to slow down a bit, talk about our songs and what inspired them, really feel a connection to the audience.

“That doesn’t mean we won’t rock the Bosque,” she adds.  “Our music is rhythm and blues with the emphasis on the rhythm.”

The concert, originally scheduled for March 14 and postponed due to COVID-19, still has tickets available.  General admission seats are $25, while reserved seats at tables are $50; they may be purchased online at www.BosqueArtsCenter.org or by calling 254.675.3724.  Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with food and beverages for sale.

Born in Texas, Ball and her family moved to Louisiana when she was a child. The piano player has incorporated in her music a popular blend of the New Orleans/Texas influences.  She wound up in Austin in the ‘70s, where she put down roots and remained.

“My first husband and I were heading from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to San Francisco with flowers in our hair in the spring of 1970 when we stopped in Austin to visit some friends,” she says.  “Our Austin-Healey Sprite needed some attention so while we were attending to that we were toured around the area.”

On the third night of their stay, they attended a house party near UT “where there were more hippies than we had ever seen in one place,” Ball says.  “On the front porch, a handsome older (than us) gentleman was playing guitar and singing.  It was Bill Neely, and I was blown away.  I thought, if I can live in a town where I can hear music like this, I don’t need to go anywhere else.”

In Austin, Ball has made her mark in various genres, contributing to the Outlaw Country movement of the early ‘70s and continuing to log milestones in music.  She was inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame in 2018. 

“My friends Irma Thomas, Tracy Nelson, Shelley King and Carolyn Wonderland joined me in performance that night.  Very memorable,” she says.

Other memorable performances for her include playing at the White House and Knott’s Berry Farm with the Original Texas Playboys.

“My first time at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1978 was the largest crowd I had ever performed for at that time,” she says, citing another notable concert.  “I have played every year but one since then.”

One of the things she loves about playing live, Ball says, is the connection to the crowd.  “For me, the interaction between the audience and the band is the most energizing thing about being a musician.  It’s the essential element of being an entertainer.  I like to see the effect our music has on the listeners and hopefully, the dancers.”

Visit bosqueartscenter.org for tickets and more information. Tickets are nearly sold out for this class act, so call 254-675-3724 for availability.

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