For more than 30 years, Ball has been delivering her signature brand of Texas blues, Louisiana R&B and Gulf Coast swamp pop to audiences all over the world. She has earned a huge and intensely loyal following through critically acclaimed albums and continued non-stop touring. Live, she’s simply unbeatable.
Previously, the only way for Marcia Ball’s fans to hear one of her stellar live performances was to see her in person. But now that all changes, as Ball rewards her fans with her first-ever full-length live album, the Grammy-nominated “Live! Down The Road,” a blistering set recorded at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in 2004. Ball gives each song the workout of a lifetime, reinventing and reinvigorating every track with the immediacy and fire only a live show can deliver.
After recording nine previous albums, Ball joined the Alligator Records family in 2001 and released the critically acclaimed “Presumed Innocent,” which took home the 2002 Blues Music Award for “Blues Album of the Year.” Her follow-up,”So Many Rivers,” was nominated for a Grammy Award, and won the 2004 Blues Music Award for “Contemporary Blues Album of the Year” as well as the coveted “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year” award. In 2005 and 2006, the Blues Music Awards honored Ball as the “Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.”
Born in Orange, Texas, in 1949 to a family whose female members all played piano, Ball grew up in the small town of Vinton, Louisiana, right across the border from Texas. She began taking piano lessons at age five, playing old Tin Pan Alley tunes from her grandmother’s collection. From her aunt, Marcia heard more modern and popular music. But it wasn’t until she was 13 that Marcia discovered the blues, as she sat amazed while Irma Thomas delivered the most soulful and spirited performance the young teenager had ever seen. According to Ball, “She just blew me away; she caught me totally unaware. Once I started my own band, the first stuff I was doing was Irma’s.” In 1966, she attended Louisiana State University, where she played some of her very first gigs with a blues-based rock band called Gum.
In 1970 Ball set out for San Francisco. Her car broke down in Austin, Texas, and while waiting for repairs, she fell in love with the city and decided to stay. It wasn’t long before Ball was performing in the city’s clubs with a progressive country band called Freda and the Firedogs, while beginning to hone her songwriting skills. It was around this time that Ball delved deeply into the music of the great New Orleans piano players, especially Professor Longhair. “Once I found out about Professor Longhair,” recalls Ball, “I knew I had found my direction.”