Marcia Ball, born on the Texas/Louisiana border, has long been a superb live performer, delivering her swampy blend of zydeco, blues and gritty R&B with all the force of a Saturday night locomotive, and her many fans have been crying for a live album for years, and now, finally, she's delivered it. Recorded in September 2004 at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, CA as part of the Sierra Center Stage series broadcast on PBS, Marcia Ball Live: Down the Road also serves as a kind of greatest-hits set, with Ball and her gritty, horn-driven road band blasting through favorites that span her career. Make no mistake, Ball comes to party, and from the blistering stomp of "Big Shot" that opens the album, she hardly lets up, and even when she does ease it down, as she does on her wonderful version of Randy Newman's gorgeous "Louisiana 1927," you can still feel the heat of the swamp between the lines. Her zydeco-fueled original, "That's Enough of That Stuff," is a clear highlight, as is "It Hurts to Be in Love," which features a guest duet vocal from Angela Strehli. Ball's road band is tested and solid, providing a gutsy backdrop to her driving piano lines and steamrolling vocals. With the good-time, sassy energy on display here, Down the Road serves as an ideal introduction to Marcia Ball in her truest environment, live on-stage, and for her longtime fans, it is an album they have long been anticipating. A bayou party in a box.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett
feat: Angela Strehli