David Ball Biography
David Ball was born into a musical family in Rock Hill, South Carolina on July 9th, 1953. His father was a Baptist minister and his mom was a multi-talented musician, who still enjoys playing ragtime piano. David is the third of four sons and a daughter, who started playing music on the ukulele and switched to guitar at 12. During his high school years, he began playing with two hometown friends, Walter Hyatt and Champ Hood. They formed a trio called Uncle Walt’s Band and after graduation the three young musicians moved to Nashville. After a year of playing the clubs, starving, sleeping on peoples floors and splitting twenty bucks a night three ways, the group moved to Austin, Texas at the urging of friends. It was there, during the 70’s and 80’s that David says he grew up as a musician. “We were young and hungry and all we did was listen and play music.” In the group, David sang lead and harmony vocals and played string bass. They were all writing and playing original songs, but also had a large repertoire of folk and roots country songs by artists like Jimmy Rogers, Hank Williams, Sr., Webb Pierce and Bob Wills just to mention a few. By the end of the 80’s the group had earned a loyal following in the Southwest and had recorded and released three albums.
Wanting the opportunity to do his own kind of music, David decided to give Nashville another try and by 1993, he recorded the now double platinum album and hit single THINKIN’ PROBLEM. David received the BMI Millionaire Award (over one million airplays) for three of the songs he wrote or co-wrote from that album. Those songs are THINKIN’ PROBLEM, WHEN THE THOUGHT OF YOU CATCHES UP WITH ME and LOOK WHAT FOLLOWED ME HOME. David says you can hear the Texas dancehall influences in these and the records that followed. In 1994 he was nominated for a Grammy for Male Vocalist of the Year.
In the spring of 2001, David began co-writing with Wood Newton, a songwriter with twenty years of experience in Nashville. Wood has just finished producing an album project for another artist in his new studio on Nashville’s Music Row, when he and David went to record the first few songs they had written together. Over a period of more than a year, they completed David’s new album AMIGO, which was released on the new Dualtone Nashville label. They used a different approach than is typical of Nashville, you can hear vintage instruments like the 1953 Fender Hawaiian steel (no pedals), accordion, chromatic harmonica and trumpets. The album has twelve great songs that will make you want to laugh, cry, clap your hands or even get on your feet and dance like they do in the dancehalls down in Texas.
THE AUSTIN YEARS
David still gets a twinkle in his eyes when he talks about the music scene he found in Austin in the early seventies. When the band started playing the Saxon Pub, he was still underage and remembers having to sit in the kitchen between sets. “They put us on the bill with local favorites Kenneth Threadgill who sang a lot like Jimmy Rogers and did a lot of his songs. We were doing a lot of Appalachian traditional folk songs along with our original material and the audiences loved it.” David points out this was even before Willie Nelson hit big down there. “There was a folk scene happening, as well as all this other great music too.”
After a year with the help of local radio, they started getting booked into some of the bigger clubs like the Armadillo, where David remembers hearing everything from Jerry Jeff Walker to the great Count Basie Orchestra. David Ball recorded LINGER AWHILE, a Count Basie cover, for his new AMIGO album. In ’73, Uncle Walt’s Band played The Kerrville Folk Festival for the first time period. “We lived above a liquor store on 6th street in Austin and paid $75 a month rent. I could go see Stevie Ray Vaughn for five dollars every Monday night. In the afternoons I’d go hang out at the little bars on 6th Street to hear these old Mexican guys playing accordions and guitars. I’d go out to these dancehalls that would hold five hundred people and hear these bands including the original Texas Playboys with Leon Rausch singing lead vocals. They had twin fiddles, steel guitars and every other instrument in the book. The jukeboxes back then still played Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb.” He often went in junk stores looking for old 78’s of Bob Wills and the like. The style of music David plays was heavily influenced by those days in Texas.