|Posted by Scott Metko on October 4, 2015 at 5:45 PM|
Grammy winner David Ball swings back into Weirsdale
By Rick Allen
Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 3:34 p.m.
Grammy Award-winning country artist David Ball returns to the Orange Blossom Opry in Weirsdale Friday with his smooth style that has been described as “simple and sophisticated; jazzy, swingy, bluesy with a touch of Tex-Mex and a little Latin flavor.”
As far as Ball is concerned, it’s all about the melody. “I’m out there standing all alone waving the torch for melody,” he said by phone last week from his home in Nashville – where, he said, he was watching his brood of Guinea fowl out his window as he talked.
Ball’s concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the opry house in Weirsdale, near the intersection of County Road 25 and State Road 42. The concert benefits Operation Troop Aid, one of Ball’s favorite initiatives, which assembles care packages to send to U.S. soldiers overseas.
Ball performed at the Orange Blossom Opry three years ago. “What a great little spot this is,” he recalled. “It fits us to a ‘T.’ It’s a small concert; it’s all about the music, not a lot of stuff going on that’s a distraction.
“The people here, they want to sit and listen. You can't ask for better than that.”
Born in South Carolina, Ball said “musically, I grew up in Texas. I moved there when I was 19, stayed there for 11 years and then moved to Nashville.”
“As a kid I liked older music. In high school I listened to the music from the ‘50s all the time – some of my favorite records were George Jones and Webb Pierce. Bob Wills was a big influence, too.
“I’m a big ‘50s fan, whether rockabilly, country stuff, even the jazz standards,” he added. “I just enjoy that era. But I’m a product of the ‘90s. They used to introduce me as the man who’s gonna set country music back 50 years, until the record label had them stop. There’s just something about that music then. I never get tired of it.”
And that's a goal of the opry, said Suzanne Morgan, venue general manager and lead singer with the opry's house band. "We welcome the new, but we're trying to keep the old traditional country music alive."
"The guys in our house band just adore him," she said of Ball. "He's just an all-around great guy with a lot of accomplishments. We're excited about him coming back."
Ball said he went to Nashville with one goal in mind: “I wanted a big hit record that stood out from everything else, that was me.”
It didn’t take long. The title track from his debut “Thinkin’ Problem” hit No. 2 on the Billboard Country chart and No. 40 and the Billboard Hot 100. The album went platinum. “Once I’d done that, well that was my goal. But I stuck it out in Nashville. I came to Nashville at a good time, and I came on a contract. I really didn’t have to work getting all that in place; that just kind of happened real quick.
“After some real quick success, it was kind of hard to maintain that,” Ball added. “My success was kind of a surprise, caught a lot of people off guard.”
So he just started having fun with his music.
He has had 14 singles in the Billboard charts over his career – including “Riding With Private Malone,” a 2001 song that peaked at No. 2 and is one of a few independently distributed songs to make it into the Country Top 5.
“Private Malone” is a moving ballad about a retired GI who buys a 1966 Corvette. In the glove compartment he finds a note written by the car’s previous owner, Pvt. Andrew Malone who served in Vietnam. “If you’re reading this, then I didn’t make it home,” the note reads.
"One of the reasons David wanted to record 'Riding With Private Malone' was because he didn't think the Vietnam vets got a fair shake when they returned home," said his manager, Scott Metko.
Ball adopted Operation Troop Aid, Metko added, "because it's one of the few military charities that serves our active-duty men and women and lets them know they are not forgotten."
Ball won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2005 as one of several artists on “Beautiful Dreamer – The Songs of Stephen Foster.” Ball’s contribution was “Old Folks at Home,” sometimes also known as “Suwannee River.”
That song just happens to be Florida’s official state song, and the Orange Blossom Opry just happens to be IN Florida. In fact, his tour bus will cross right over the Suwannee River as he approaches Weirsdale.
“Hey, that’s right,” Ball said. “We better brush that up if we’re coming to the Orange Blossom. It’s coming up pretty quick.”
Rick Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 867-4154 or on Twitter @rickallen0103.
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