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David Ball to Play in Longview

Posted by Scott Metko on August 18, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 11:28 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012. By Ryan C. Perry [email protected] | 0 comments

Platinum-selling, Grammy-winning country artist David Ball and his band, The Pioneer Playboys, are set to perform Friday at The Texas Players Club in Longview

The opening act is David Baxter and the Iron Horse Band.

Ball, perhaps best known for hits “Thinking Problem” and “Riding With Private Malone,” is touring in support of his newest album “Sparkle City.”

“It’s some of the best songs I’ve got,” he said. “One song on there ... it’s the best song I’ve ever had. It’s called ‘What’ll I Do if I Don’t Have You.’”

The song has an old-country feel to it -- much like most of Ball’s work. He said the song was dedicated the charity Operation Troop Aid.

The charity, where Ball is an honorary board member, raises money for care packages for deployed military members and helps them pay bills once they return home. Friday’s show will benefit the charity.

“It sad to hear about things like suicide, depression funky diseases. I think a lot of that stress can be alleviated if the country shows concern for their welfare,” he said. “That’s what Operation Troop Aid is really about.”

Although he has achieved massive critical and professional success as an artist, Ball bucks current trends and creates music how he sees fit.

He said people who are fans of old-style country music have enjoyed “Sparkle City,” but without massive corporate support, it doesn’t get the same publicity of more radio-friendly new-style country albums.

“There has been no real push behind it, so we’re doing it one show at a time,” he said. “We approached it in our own way, and we’re out spreading the word. I call it ‘non-corporate country music.’ I’m really proud of this record. We had a great time recording it.”

Even at his commercial peak, Ball said he didn’t quite fit in with mainstream country radio.

“Radio has always been a struggle for me,” he said. “I was always really lucky to get in there and to get a couple of hits. The door didn’t just stay open for me. People we’re confused by ‘Thinkin’ Problem.’ I don’t know what they thought it was. To me, it was just good country music.”

Ball said his roots are from folk and old country music, and his sound proves it. His guitar work is mostly simple, well-crafted and amazingly catchy. Much like artists who inspired him when he was young, strong rhythm and lyrics drive his work.

“I was always a fan of music, as a kid and as an adult,” he said. “I’ve always been a fan, and there are a lot of people like me.”

He and his band are betting the success of “Sparkle City” on the live shows, and he is hoping the scaled back approach will gain fans of his new work.

“I know what it is like to have that big radio hit behind you when you go out to play, and it’s hard to beat as far as excitement,” he said.

Ball said he is happy in the direction he is taking with the music creation, and the less-than-commercial approach of writing, recording and touring fuels him better creatively.

“That’s all one process, and that’s the way I like to do it,” he said. “It wasn’t always that way. You have to be excited about the new song, you want the band to learn it. You want to get out there and play it in front of people. That’s what keeps us going. We have a lot of really exciting stuff. And, we still have the old hits. I’m still doing some of the same stuff I’ve always done.”

He says fans should expect an intimate, dance-worthy experience at the concert. He said one of his favorite parts of Texas audiences is that they will break out into a two-step at the show.

“We have a great band, and we love to play,” he said. “If I had to pick something, I would say I am a ballroom, live singer. I kind of worked at the song-writing thing -- that’s why I came to Nashville. I got a publishing deal, and it gave me a good long period to do nothing but write. It was fun, and I learned a lot. Then I threw that all out the window, and now I just write whatever strikes my fancy -- whatever I want to hear. I’m coming from a different place.”

“‘Sparkle City’ -- I got exactly what I wanted,” he said. “The sound was good; it was energetic. It’s very rewarding, and people like it. We haven’t made a dent with it down in Texas yet, but we take it everywhere we go.”

Ball said he also is excited about opening act, David Baxter and the Iron Horse Band.

“We were listening to some of his stuff, and it’s pretty dad-gum good,” he said.

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