A night of Cajun, blues musicThe Minneapolis Star Tribune called Marcia Ball "the bayou queen of the piano." Garrison Keillor called BeauSoliel "the best Cajun band in the world."
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
The Minneapolis Star Tribune called Marcia Ball "the bayou queen of the piano." Garrison Keillor called BeauSoliel "the best Cajun band in the world."
Put them together July 9 in Red Wing's Central Park Band Shell and you've got a free, outdoor concert that promises to be standing room only.
In addition to the local audience, the concert likely will draw a crowd from the Red Wing Collectors Society convention, which wrap up that night.
By sheer coincidence, Ball turns out to be a pottery collector herself; she's very familiar with Red Wing's namesake industry.
She has performed in Minnesota before, and recalls "cruisin' around" the Red Wing area en route to an event in Duluth - about as far as you can get from her stomping grounds in Louisiana and Texas.
"It was rainy and cold, but nobody left," she said. "The people up there are very hardy."
More likely, her music kept them warm.
According to that Star Tribune review, "she's a rollicking dynamo spewing heat-seeking triplets from the ivories while her horn-driven band wails."
Ball is a singer, songwriter and pianist whose New Orleans/Gulf Coast rhythm and blues music has been described as an "infectious, intelligent and deeply emotional brand of southern boogie, roadhouse blues and heartfelt ballads."
Her 35-year career has led to a list of awards including four Grammy nominations. She's an eight-time Blues Music Award winner in categories including best piano player and best contemporary blues/female artist.
Ball was inducted into the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame in 2010, and this spring she was among featured artists at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Her television appearances have included "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "Austin City Limits."
The Red Wing concert will feature "Roadside Attractions," an album of original music she released this past spring.
"We'll pretty much perform the whole record," she said, along with such favorites as "La Ti Da," "Louella" and "The Power of Love" - also songs she wrote.
Ball grew up in Louisiana in a musical family. "I don't remember ever not playing piano," she said.
She attended college in Baton Rouge in the 1960s, "at a time when the world was changing." If the Beatles and the Rolling Stones could bring back "American blues," Ball decided, "so can we."
She moved to Austin, Texas, where she continued developing her music. Today she performs with the Marcia Ball Band - bass, saxophone, guitar, drums - including some musicians who have been with her for decades.
Although Ball and BeauSoliel will perform independent sets at the band shell, "sometimes we get together a little," she said.
BeauSoliel avec Michael Doucet, the frontman, is one of the most acclaimed Cajun groups of all time. Formed in 1975, the group is credited with spearheading a cultural Renaissance and elevating Cajun music to domestic and international acclaim.
The band has earned two Grammy Awards, 11 Grammy nominations and 14 OffBeat Magazine Best Cajun Performer awards. The album "Live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival" won the 2009 Grammy for zydeco/Cajun music.
The group frequently is heard on Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show on National Public Radio.
Based in Lafayette, La., BeauSoliel - French for "beautiful sun" - consists of Doucet on violin, guitar, accordion, mandolin and vocals; his brother, David Doucet, on guitar and vocals; Jimmy Breaux on accordion, Billy Ware on percussion, Tommy Alesi on drums, and Mitchell Reed on fiddle and bass.
BeauSoliel's music is an innovative blend of blues, bluegrass, rock and traditional Cajun.
Together, Ball and BeauSoliel perform music designed to get people out onto the dance floor - or dance lawn, in the case of Central Park.
"People must (get up and dance," Ball said. "I insist."
She also invited people to stop by the park to visit with her and get CDs autographed. If they want to talk Red Wing Pottery, she's up for that, too.
If you go ...
Who: Marcia Ball and BeauSoleil
What: Cajun/blues concert
When: 7 p.m. July 9
Where: Central Park Band Shell
How much: Free
More info: www.sheldontheatre.org