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Marcia Ball

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Release Date: 2008-04-09

Marcia Ball refuses to recognize the border that separates Texas from Lousiana. In her mind, the Gulf Coast is a region unto itself, and the culture of Lake Charles is indistiguishable from that of Port Arthur or Beaumont.

The statuesque blues diva is uniquely qualified to make that assessment because she was born in Orange, Texas, grew up in Louisiana, and ultimately settled in Austin (where her car broke down en route to the inevitable free-love-era destination, San Francisco). Her propulsive piano pounding (reminiscent of regional greats such as Dr. John and Fats Domino), graceful R&B vocals, and knack for brassy arrangements make her one of the unique artists who can handle Lousiana swamp-pop and uptown urban blues with equal flair.

Ball’s new album, Peace, Love & BBQ (a Gulf Coast vision of bliss, if ever there was one) is the latest in a long line of solid studio efforts, with gimmick-free production from Stephen Bruton and Ball writing or co-writing eight of the album’s 13 tracks. She’s at her best with “Watermelon Time,” a syncopated second-line funk tune that depicts a small-town rural scene but feels like New Orleans on a Saturday night. Ball inhabits both of those worlds, but as far as she’s concerned, they’re the same place. 9:30 p.m. Sat, Apr 12, $18, Casbeers, 1719 Blanco Rd., (210) 732-3511

- Gilbert Garcia

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