Marcia Ball brings Gulf Coast blues, R&B to Colorado BBQ Challenge |

Marcia Ball brings Gulf Coast blues, R&B to Colorado BBQ Challenge

Texas-born, Louisiana-raised pianist, vocalist and songwriter Marcia Ball will give a free performance at Frisco’s Colorado BBQ Challenge on Thursday, June 18. Ball’s groove-laden New Orleans R&B, heart-wrenching ballads and driving Gulf Coast blues have made her a one-of-a-kind favorite of music fans everywhere. Her music mixes equal parts simmering soul fervor and rollicking Crescent City piano. The free concert begins at 8 p.m. at the Music Stage on the corner of Madison Avenue and Main Street in Frisco. For more information, visit
Mary Keating Bruton / Special to the Daily |

If you go

What: Colorado BBQ Challenge kickoff concert with Marcia Ball

When: 8-9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18

Where: Music Stage, corner of Madison Avenue and Main Street, Frisco

Cost: Free; alcohol will be available for purchase via cash or credit card (No Hogback barbecue dollars will be accepted at this event)

More information: This is a no-pet event. Visit to learn more.

Texas-born, Louisiana-raised musical storyteller Marcia Ball has earned worldwide fame for her ability to ignite a full-scale roadhouse rhythm and blues party every time she strolls onto the stage. Her groove-laden New Orleans boogie, deeply-soulful ballads and rollicking Gulf Coast blues have made her a favorite with music fans all over the world — and she’ll bring that one-of-a-kind sound to the Colorado BBQ Challenge on Frisco Main Street on Thursday, June 18.

We sat down with Ball and talked about her career, her sound and her newest record. For the extended interview, check out this article at

SUMMIT DAILY NEWS: How did you get started in the world of music?

MARCIA BALL: I started playing music in a band when I was 18 years old, and I’m on Social Security now, so I’ve been doing it for a while. I have piano players in my family — my brother and mother played piano, and my aunt played piano and started me taking piano lessons when I was a little girl. I just have kept going. I went to college in the heyday of rock ’n’ roll, The Rolling Stones. I figured if they could do it, we could do it. A bunch of us started different bands. I was at LSU in Baton Rouge, and I started up with some musicians and just kept going.

SDN: Were you immediately drawn to blues?

MB: I started out singing rock ’n’ roll, and then I came to Austin from Baton Rouge and started playing country music. We were kind of young hippies playing country music. We were reinventing the form. It was the heyday of The Birds, Buffalo Springfield and The Band. We were all moving around in the various genres, re-creating the music that we used to shun. We learned to appreciate it.

After that, I went back to my roots, which was the Louisiana style of R&B that I grew up listening to — the Fats Domino kind of stuff — and that’s what I do to this day now. I write a lot of my own music now, so it’s original, it’s my stuff.

SDN: Tell me about your newest album, “The Tattooed Lady and The Alligator Man.” Lyrically, what kind of a story does it weave, and where do those topics come from?

MB: The ideas come from all over in my life; the world around me is the best way to put it. I write songs about the things that I observe, like most writers of any form. People who write fiction, poetry, lyrics, songs — you report the world, is what I do.

It’s a collection of songs that are representative of what I’m doing these days. There’s a point in most of my records that there is a message about something that may be going on in the world. In the case of this record, there’s several. Some of them are up-tempo dance songs. “The Squeeze is On,” it has a subtext of economic hardship, and “Human Kindness” — that song is just really openly about how we treat one another, how we should coexist.

SDN: Why do you think it’s important to incorporate those external themes and stories into your work?

MB: I live in this world. I worry about our world, our future, a lot. We’re all affected seriously by all of the goings on in the world today, and it’s really sometimes frustrating. And, I think part of the job of a musician, you get told, a person like me, when I do a bunch of political subjects, to just shut up and sing, and that actually doesn’t work for me. As my friend Carolyn Wonderland said, it’s physically impossible to shut up and sing. I talk about what’s going on in the world today, and I can use my platform to voice my opinions. People don’t have to buy it, they don’t have to agree with me, but I’ve found that it works out for me.

The audience that I attract is people who are like-minded. I’m not radical in any sense of the word; I just think people should look out for each other. Peace and love; “Peace, Love and BBQ,” as one of my earlier records is titled. That’s what it’s about.

SDN: The album is described as a mix of “Gulf Coast blues, New Orleans R&B, swampy Louisiana ballads and Tex-Mex-flavored zydeco.” How does that all come together?

MB: It’s really dance music. It’s really fun dance music, and I’ve been doing this for a long time; and, as one of the songs says, “We’re here on a mission of improving your condition,” and that’s what we’re here to do, make you smile.

SDN: Do you often come to Colorado? What are you looking forward to about this trip?

MB: We’re usually there at least once a year, sometimes twice, and we play the High Country as much as we can. We’ll be on a little run of dates, we’ll be playing in Denver and down in Louisville. Over the years, we’ve played all over the state, and we really love it, especially in the summertime.

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