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Roots veteran Marcia Ball took pen in hand for latest album

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011

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After putting out albums for nearly 40 years, Marcia Ball’s latest release, “Roadside Attractions,” marks the first time she’s ever written or co-written every track on the set.

“I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing for a long time, as much as eight of 12 or seven of 10 songs on each (album),” says Ball, 62, who was born in Texas and resides in Austin, but was raised and learned to play in Louisiana. But working with Nashville-based producer Gary Nicholson, an artist in his own right, Ball says that “we just came up with a lot of material, more than we knew what to do with, really.

“We wrote in some cases with some of his friends, like Dan Penn and Tom Hambridge, and we just got songs we liked. I usually try to pick the best song, whether it’s mine or not. And this time the best songs we had wound up being all ones I had written on.”

Her fans apparently agree; “Roadside Attractions” debuted at No. 5 on Billboard’s blues chart and No. 25 on the Americana list, the latter Ball’s highest showing ever. She’s having a good time playing the new songs live, but she’s also starting to think about what she wants to do next.

“I’ve got some thought in mind for maybe a piano side project before I make another album like this,” Ball says. “It’ll be a little more historically based. I may go back to the roots and explore a little bit of that.

“I don’t know when I’ll do it. I’m lucky, in that I can just kind of work until I feel like it’s something I want to put out. That’s what happens when you do this long enough, I guess.”

Marcia Ball performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 12, at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $30. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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