After lengthy negotiations and an exchange of certain
gifts and promises, the Web Gator is happy to announce
randomly scheduled messages from Marcia Ball, her own self!
She sings, We listen... She writes, We read...

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Berne, Switzerland was so lovely, all decorated for Easter. Marian's Jazz Room is legendary. Can't believe how many great artists have played there.  Intimidating but the crowds were warm and appreciative.  Ate my weight in chocolate and yes, Ginger, I got some Batons Kirsch, thanks to Nilly.  Ate two between shows one night and was high-ola.  Very happy to be going to Norman, OK, Friday, 4/9, to play the Sooner Theater.  Always a great time there.  P.S.:  Happy Anniversary, Len and Cindy.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Bugle Boy and the Grammies

I had a real fun gig tonight, solo, down in LaGrange, TX at a listening room called The Bugle Boy.  Eighty seats and a whole lot of soul.  It reminds me of a couple of my other favorite rooms – The Ark in Ann Arbor and Stone Mountain Art Center in Maine – but smaller.  It’s pretty unique here in Texas to have someone try this and make it work as well as Lane has.  Many of the Austin songwriters play there and the audience is very appreciative.  I’m so glad it works and I hope we get some more of these rooms especially since the word flew around Austin today that the Cactus Café is closing.  This is one of the premier listening rooms in the country, in the Student Union at the University of Texas.  It’s been around since 1979 but it requires some financial support from the University and they’re cutting it off.  We have a five million dollar football coach we need to pay.  So we’ll have to drive to San Marcos or Lagrange to hear our poets and pickers, our prophets and our pilgrims.

And it took about an hour’s ride to wind down from the gig.  Going solo is a workout for me.  It may be that I miss my drummer the most judging from how hard I pound the floor while I’m playing but the whole thing is like bareback riding.  There’s nothing to hold onto and you can fly off into space at any moment.  So I came home and watched the Grammies on TV.  Last year I was there.  This year, I had a better seat.  Here’s my few cents:

Liked Norah Jones’ haircut.  Thought the Michael Jackson tribute had some great singing going on but forgot my 3-D glasses.  Loved looking at the audience in their 3-D glasses.  Make no apologies for not knowing anything about the Zac Brown Band (New Artist, after all) but really liked them and their harmonies and the guitar playing and, of course, the special appearance by Leon Russell.  Kept getting run out of the room by music I couldn’t get into so I missed some stuff like Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige and may have to download the song from Itunes.  Gordon fell asleep during Bon Jovi so he missed Jeff Beck playing “How High The Moon” with that great blond in the gold dress singing.  Missed her name.  Went online to find out who won in the categories I care about:  Blues, Americana, Zydeco/Cajun.  Buckwheat Zydeco won.  As far as I’m concerned, they’re all winners and make beautiful music.  Glad Ramblin’ Jack Elliot won.  My daughter-in-law likes the Kings of Leon so I’m glad they won especially since one of them said they like Blaze Foley, a late legendary Texas songwriter.

So, thoroughly wound down, I’m going to close the book on today.  I have another solo performance on Tuesday, this one a song swap in honor of Rod Kennedy, the Kerrville Folk Festival founder.  I’ll only be doing a couple of songs, I figure, since the others on my segment of the show are Robert Earl Kean, Ray Benson, Eliza Gilkyson, and the Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock).  That’s some serious songwriter overload.  Glad I got all warmed up today.

Speaking of which:  you stay warm.  It could snow all the way down here in Centex so it must be cold all over the world.  More when there is any.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Help Haiti

We had a real fun time in Port Arthur playing and being inducted into the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame. The musical line-up at the gig was excellent -  Ultrasuede, featuring Susan Pierce singing Janis and Jivin' Gene doing a great set topped off with his hit "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do".  The best part was hearing the stories of my co-inductee, Floyd Soileau, the legendary record producer and promoter from Ville Platte, La. He is truly part of the history of Louisiana music recording.

Came home and played a Help Austin Help Haiti fundraiser at the Austin Music Hall put together by Joe and Sharon Ely.  Amazing line-up - Sean Colvin, Robert Earl Kean, Kelly Willis, Bruce Robison, Reckless Kelly, The Gourds, The Flatlanders, and more.  Big more.  Dear Austin musicians, always ready to help.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cruise fall-out

So now everybody’s piling their Sandy Beaches photos on to Facebook and I think – Damn.  I did everything I could do and had all the fun I could stand and it still looks like those people might have had more fun than me.  Did they sleep?  Well, I’ll do better next year – I say every year.

Right now I’m going see a show of David Bates’s paintings at the Austin Museum of Art.  He’s so very cool.  If you look him up, you’ll see why I like him.  Just my type of stuff.  Then lunch and then...auditioning a drummer.  Yes, Corey Keller is leaving the band.  Another damn.  Please pardon my language but I hate to see him go.  And my mother is inconsolable.  But times and people have to move along and fortunately we have some very good prospects so we’ll keep on keeping on.

This weekend, we’re going to Port Arthur, Texas to play a gig in honor of Janis Joplin’s birthday and, by the way, I’ll be inducted into the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame.  Persistence pays off.  I’ll now be part of the world that I fell in love with when I was a kid listening to the bands in the Catholic Hall across the street from my house.  So happy.

In my last post I offered some cell phone advice (after losing mine in a cab).  I forgot to say:  always get the cab number.  It may not help you get your lost item back but it focuses your anger.

Off to look at art.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Slogging and blogging

Whew!  Back from the Delbert Sandy Beaches (there's a beach?!) Cruise.  Burned the candle at both ends and the middle.  Teresa James overwhelms with her voice and her grooves; Fred Eaglesmith makes you laugh, then cry; Paul Thorne makes you laugh, then rock; Raul Malo makes you swoon; Cyril Neville, Tab Benoit and Wayne Toups hit me right where I live and make "happy feet"; Jimmy Hall and Mike Farris inspire; Seth Walker swings.  And more:  Mingo Fishtrap, Doyle and Debbie, songwriters, Pianorama, Big Joe, Nick Connolly.  Delbert rules over all.  Peter and Jane dance every dance.  Linda and Jim, too, and their granddaughter Sarah is the Sweetheart of the Whole Dang Rodeo.  You must do this!

You know what’s harder than packing?  Unpacking!  Packing is grab and stuff.  Unpacking is sorting and washing and hanging and feeling silly for taking all that stuff you didn’t need.

The best meal of the week:  Thai food in West Bay, Roatan, Honduras.  Go figure.

We loved our gig Sunday night at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa.  What a great joint and a great crowd.  Many thanks to Patty’s (wonderful) Pod for coming out and bringing the giantest (?) grapefruit I’ve ever seen.  Many more thanks to everybody who came and danced the night away.

Thanks also to Beth McKee who opened for us at the Plaza Theater in Orlando.  She’s terrific, plays piano, and has a whole new album of Bobby Charles songs.  It was ironic that a few days after that show, we got the news that Bobby had passed away.  His health had not been good for a long time but he was still writing and had completed a new album which I look forward to hearing.  We’ll miss our friend and his beautiful creative spirit.

I lost my Blackberry between the boat and the airport on Sunday so if you expected to hear from me and didn’t, that could be why.  My personally unheeded advice:  go sync your phone database with your computer.  Right now.  And maybe you should think about insurance.  Duh.

More when there is any.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Biltmore

I swear - we stayed at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida last night. Think the Babes - Ruth and Zaharias, in golfing knickers playing with persimmon drivers, an unfinished hotel tower in the background. The place drips with historic cool and present-day luxury. It's the Miami of legend: long, low, tile-roofed houses set in lush tropical gardens shaded by oak trees that twine together over the streets. Gorgeous. Unfortunately, it was 36 degrees and raining. The locals were not happy. We were okay with it because it was 18 degrees in Austin and it's warming up today and we're on our way to get on Delbert's Sandy Beaches Cruise shucking layers of clothes as we go.

Our gig last night at the U. Of Miami was a fundraiser for the study of ethics and public service in honor of Steve Chaykin. We really appreciated the chance to play for this group and their cause. We especially loved it when the spirit took the audience and the big umbrella came out for a march around the auditorium. Very Chaykin, I'm told.

So now we're crossing the Everglades, the sun is shining and I've got to quit typing and start looking at the birds. Amazing egrets and herons of all sizes and colors. I think I saw an eagle. Need my bird book. Okay - now I just saw an alligator! No joke! Okay - now we've seen about ten of them sunning on the bank of the canal alongside the road. Cool.

More later. Stay warm. Marcia

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Kiss 2009 goodbye. Let’s welcome the new year with high hopes.  We’ll be celebrating with our good friends, the Fitzgeralds, in Berwyn, Illinois.  There’s snow on the ground and more coming down but we’re expecting a full house and it’s going to be red hot inside the club tonight.  We’ll be thinking of all of our good friends all over the country and the world, toasting to family, health, friendship, happiness, love, and prosperity.  We will be wishing you well.

The wonderful thing about playing music is that every day I think of someplace we’ve been, some people we’ve met, who are doing the real work of lifting people’s spirits.  Music and the intrepid gamblers who produce shows and festivals, who travel and play gigs, who support the artists by creating societies, foundations and charities, that’s what keeps us going.  It’s a generous community and in return for often very little compensation, they bring hope and joy (and barbecue) to the world every day and night.  We’re working on the peace part.

As for me, I resolve to do something in 2010 so good that it honors the memories of Eddie Bo, Bud Shrake, Stephen Bruton and Robin Shivers.

If I start thanking people, it’ll go on all night long.  But what the heck – I don’t have anything to do until sound check.  Just stop reading when you get tired of it:  

I want to thank our families, my great band, Alligator Records, The Rosebud Agency, Page Hite, Deb Fleming, Antone’s, Fitzgerald’s, The Blues Foundation, The New Orleans Jazz Fest, Sweet Home New Orleans, HAAM, the Delbert Sandy Beaches Cruise, The Palms, The Triple Door, B.B. King’s in NYC, Knuckleheads, Dosey Doe, Rhythm and Roots, Michael Arnone’s Crawfish Boil, The Belly Up, Rancho Nicasio, The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, Irma Thomas, The Stone Mountain Art Center, Seth Walker, the Turning Point, Dominos For World Peace, the Knickerbocker, The Ocean Mist, Sokolowski’s in Cleveland, the Granada, Bobby Charles, The Rams Head, The State Theater in Falls Church, VA, the Birchmere, Tracy Nelson, Yoshi’s, my Pilates instructor Darragh, The Aladdin Theater in Portland, OR, the Dakota in Minneapolis, Crystal Bay Casino, The Houston International Festival, Snug Harbor, Jimmy Anselmo, The Chocolate Church, Loose Wheels, The Ark, The Iron Horse, The Beachland Ballroom, the whole towns of Louisville and Greeley, CO, Sengelmann Hall, Blues on the Green, KRVS, The Bourbon Street Club in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that great NYC Hudson River cruise, The Stephen Talkhouse, The Little Fox, Angela and Bob, The Regatta Bar, Floyd Domino, Nancy Coplin, Elvin Bishop, Kimmie Rhodes, Skipper’s Smokehouse, Mama’s doctors, all the folks in Oslo at Herr Mueller’s, in Odense, Denmark, in Vilnius, Lithuania, at Le Meridien in Paris and especially at the Lucerne Blues Festival, everybody who played on my Birthday Bash in February, everyone who came to my Birthday Bash, the Pousson Family who all worked on my Birthday Bash,  Red Young, Brian Nolan, The Tejana Dames, The Firedogs, Sculler’s, House of Blues in New Orleans, Tipitina’s, W.C. Clark, Artz Ribhouse, Tom Marker, Ben Sandmel, John T. Davis, River Ranch, Blue Moon Saloon, Linda Bacon, Threadgill’s, the Continental Club, Margaret Moser, The Saxon Pub...

There are more but the band’s here and it’s sound check time.  We’re going to party like it’s 2009!  You too.

Read all of Marcia's previous Ball Bearings from years past.

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