FRIDAY, MAY 4—GENTILLY STAGE, 1:35 P.M.
Marcia Ball fans will be thrilled this Jazz Fest by the material from her great new record, Shine Bright. “We’re going to be playing some stuff from it,” says Ball. “It was recorded down in Lafayette with Roddy Romero and Yvette Landry and Leon Zeno on bass who’s Buckwheat’s bass player, a bunch of Lafayette-area musicians. It’s got nine original and co-written songs, one Ernie K-Doe cover, ‘When the Mardi Gras Is Over,’ and a Jesse Winchester song called ‘Take a Little Louisiana With You Everywhere You Go’.”
Ball, a Gulf Coast native with roots in both east Texas and west Louisiana, has been a fixture on the New Orleans scene for many years, a regular at local clubs dating back to the 1980s.
“Those were the heydays,” she laughs. “Playing Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, playing every night—the Maple Leaf, Jimmy’s, Tipitina’s, the Rock ‘n’ Bowl, every night, playing all night. Some fun stuff.”
Ball wrote a song about those heady days, “That’s Enough of That Stuff,” that is one of the best tributes to the New Orleans party scene ever penned.
“That was truly my homage,” she says. “Most of the music that I write is in tribute to Allen Toussaint. He’s the touchstone I work from. My new record is dedicated to Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint and Buckwheat Zydeco. I’m playing Piano Night on the Monday and Wednesday I’m playing with Joe Krown and Tom McDermott at Snug, and I’m doing an in-store Wednesday afternoon, just me and my horn player, at Louisiana Music Factory.”
Ball is unique in her ability to represent both New Orleans and Austin, Texas musically, playing in both places frequently and embracing a shared musical aesthetic that comes through loud and clear on new songs like “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That” and “I’m Glad I Did What I Did.”
“I live in Austin and I am deeply rooted in Louisiana through my relations,” she says. “It’s been great, really. Being a songwriter in Austin gives me so much inspiration. There are a few people like me who have walked this line. One of my biggest influences in Austin was Doug Sahm. He drew no line when it came to music. It was all the same to him. All the way from Mobile to San Antonio, that music is all the same. The West Side Horns in San Antonio and the Boogie King horns in the Golden Triangle, Deacon John’s horn section in New Orleans, all those guys are working off the same ideas. That music is so much the same.
“I credit Doug with opening every door for me. Introducing me to Jerry Wexler… Doug had this unerring instinct of knowing what was gonna be cool. And he was there. And then he took over of course.”