Crazy stuff happens in life. And in Marica Ball’s case, she writes a song about it and usually has a story to share while she performs on stage. With long slender fingers striding effortlessly across her keyboard and even longer legs tapping out boogie and zydeco rhythms, Ball looks like she’s having a ball no matter how sad, weird, or true the story is.
Her new album, “The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man,” has it all. The title track romps out a tale about a carnival couple who thrill the crowd. Ball belts out songs like “Clean My House” with attitude about a worthless man, then sways in Ray Charles melancholy with “The Last to Know.”
That’s the Gulf Coast way — sing a song and have a party. For the past four decades, Ball has incorporated her geographical roots and musical influences such as Memphis blues, Chicago blues, zydeco, boogie, and Texas swing into dozens of albums that have earned her nine Blues Music Awards. Her last album, Roadside Attractions on Alligator Records in 2011, garnered a fifth Grammy nomination. The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man, also on Alligator Records, was released earlier this fall.
“It was time, it was just time to put this album together,” said Ball while on the road from Texas to the East Coast. “We’re on the road now promoting this new record. I still love touring. Just love it.”
This Saturday, Ball and her band will be cooking their own blend of blues at Kents Hill School. The concert is part of the Aleigh Mills series, which awards a scholarship in honor of a former student who tragically lost her life in 2007. The concert series has been going for five years, and the first scholarship was awarded this year.
Over the years, has engaged audiences of all ages with her Southern openness and zestful embrace of the present.
“It’s nice that my audience has aged with me,” said Ball. “And now they bring their children, and there’s a whole new connection to a whole new generation.”
Even though Ball has been playing piano since age five, she attended Louisiana State University as an English major. As part of a psychedelic rock and roll band called Gum, Ball headed out to San Francisco in 1970 but landed in Austin, Texas, when their car broke down. There she returned to the music of her roots. She was born in Orange, Texas, and grew up across the state line in Vinton, La.
Her current album reverberates with the classic rhythm and blues and rock and roll styles of Jerry Lee Lewis, Professor Longhair, Sam Cooke, and Aretha Franklin. And like any real blues album, the music flaunts a joyous spirit that turns hard times into a reason to dance. Saturday’s crowd can expect Ball and her band (Don Bennett on Bass, Damien Llanes on drums, Michael Schermer on guitar, and Thad Scott on tenor sax) to rock the house. The track “Like There’s No Tomorrow” promises that they “came to party.”
What: Aleigh Mills Concert Series – Marcia Ball
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1
Where: Bodman Performing Arts Center, Newton Hall, Kents Hill School
Tickets: $38 for general seating; $55 for VIP seating; purchased online at kentshill.org/concertseries or by calling 207-685-1635