The Irresistable Marcia Ball
woman who knows.
One rainy day under a tent in a midwestern field, she chatted easily in the wings, with an eye on her band warming the stage. When the drums played alone, ramped up a notch, the guitar player announced her, and she shifted into another gear. Propelled, she strode onto and across the stage, acknowledged the crowd, stood next to the piano, and began hollering the Gary U.S. Bonds classic "New Orleans": "I said-a hey, hey, hey, hey yeah!" The crowd surged forward, and the ritual began, fan favorites mixing with choice picks from recent releases, Texicana R&B brought to date with no apology. "Right Tool for the Job" crossed a guitar boogie riff with a steady second line. Her Professor Longhair roots were showing on "La Ti Da." She might be at her best on soulful ballads, and when she sang the first line of the Irma Thomas classic "It's Raining," the mud-splattered fans let out a knowing roar. Ball's direct connection with her audience seems effortless.