David Ball was born into a musical family in Spartanburg, 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. Starting out on the ukelelue, he switched to guitar at 12. However, it was the formation of Uncle Walt's Band during his high school years with two hometown friends, Walter Hyatt and Champ Hood, that set the course for the next thirty years. After graduation in 1971, the trio moved to Nashville and spent a year playing the clubs, splitting twenty bucks three ways, starving, and sleeping on other people's floors. Upon the urging of some friends, they decided maybe they'd have better luck in Austin, Texas.
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It was a momentous decision and it was there, off and on 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". David sang lead and harmony vocals and played string bass. They were all writing and playing original songs and also had a large repertoire of folk and roots country songs by artists like Jimmie Rogers, Hank Williams Sr., Webb Pierce and Bob Wills. By the end of the 80's and three albums, the group had earned a loyal following and near legendary status in the southwest.
Wanting the opportunity to do his own kind of music, David decided to give Nashville another try. This time things worked out differently. In 1993, he recorded the now platinum plus selling album and hit single Thinking Problem for Warner Bros. The album garnered him a Grammy nomination for male vocalist of the year. David wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs and has received the BMI Millionaire Award (over one million air plays) for three of the songs from that album, "Thinking Problem", "When The Thought Of You Catches Up With Me" and "Look What Followed Me Home". His tenure in Texas left an indelible stamp on his solo music and you can still hear the sound of Texas' dancehalls in his music.
In the spring of 2000, David began co-writing with Wood Newton, a songwriter with twenty years of experience in Nashville. Wood had just finished producing an album project for another artist, when he and David went in to record the first few songs they had written together. A few sessions turned into a period of more than a year and the completion of the new album AMIGO, DualTone Records. The duo had fun recording this labor of love and included the use of vintage instruments like the 1953 Fender Hawaiian Steel (no pedals), accordion, chromatic harmonica and trumpets. (are there any special guests, players, we can mention here?) The new album takes listeners back to the Texas' dancehalls of David's early musical career. It's get up on your feet and dance music.
The Austin Years
David Ball gets a twinkle in his eyes when he talks about the music scene that he found in Austin in the early seventies. The band started playing the Saxon Pub, yet he was still under age and remembers having to sit in the kitchen between sets. "They put us on the bill with local favorite Kenneth Threadgill who sang a lot like Jimmie Rodgers 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 love it". David points out that this was even before Willie (Nelson) hit big down there. "There was a folk scene still happening, but 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 everthing from Jerry Jeff Walker to the great Count Basie Orchestra. David recorded "Linger Awhile", a Count Basie cover, for his new AMIGO album. The first time Uncle Walt's Band played The Kerrville Folk Festival was in 1973.
"We all lived together 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 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 books. The jukeboxes back then still played Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb." He spent a lot of his free time in junk stores looking for old 78's of Bob Wills and the like. David's current sound is still heavily influenced by those early days in Texas.
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