CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — “Her Tallness” gets the Crown on Saturday.Long, tall Marcia Ball performs in the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room for a seated show, which leads to the question, will the concertgoers dance while they sit in their chairs or while standing on top of them? The boogie-woogie piano player from Austin, Texas, last played Tahoe during Labor Day Weekend 2009 when the Commons Beach attendance record was set.Ball said the Crown Room is similar to her hometown’s venerable Antone’s.“They are about the same size,” Ball said. “The volume of the Crown Room is a bit bigger. The people who come are so thoroughly into the music. They are not necessarily gamblers. A lot of times you play in a casino and it’s a gambler who happens to hear music and wanders in. At Crystal Bay, these people have come to see the music and they love the fact that a good lineup of music is being brought in there on a regular basis.”Ball has packed the Crown Room three times since it opened in 2005. She plays piano with her legs crossed, kicking the right one to the beat the entire show. In 2012, she received the Blue Music Award’s Pinetop Perkins award as the genre’s favorite pianist, the fifth time in eight years. She also was inducted this year into the Louisiana Hall Of Fame. She grew up in Vinton, La., attending high school with Toto singer Bobby Kimball. After finishing college at Louisiana State University, Ball attempted to move to San Francisco but her car broke down in Austin, where she stayed, deciding it was the South’s answer to the progressive and open-minded city by the bay. She started her first major band, Freda and the Firedogs in 1970. Ball went solo in 1974 and had had at least 15 albums. She also often collaborates on CDs with other artists.The Alligator Records artist’s last four records have been nominated for Grammy Awards, including the latest, “Roadside Attractions,” which had songwriting contributions from Tom Hambridge, Gary Nicholson and Dan Penn. “I’d like to go back and do it again, as I said about kissing a boy on one of those songs,” Ball said. “I stay real busy playing the gigs that that record produced. I am writing on my own but I haven’t gone back and written with them again, which I’d love to do.”Ball continues to play about 125 shows per year, and she spoke with Lake Tahoe Action Monday, one day after she returned from the Blues to Bop Festival in Lugano, Switzerland.After playing in Tahoe on Saturday, Ball and her band will perform Sunday at Angela Strehli and Bob Brown’s Rancho Nacasio in Marin County. An accomplished singer, Strehli was the stage manager at Antone’s, a club famous for performers such as Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughan, Kim Wilson, Muddy Waters and Pinetop Perkins.The music community was surprised when Strehli moved to California with Brown.“Love conquers all,” Ball said “It was a surprise to all of us. We were all on the scene when Angela met Bob. He came around and it was meant to be, and off she went.”Guitarist “Mighty” Mike Schermer made the opposite move. A longtime Bay Area resident who used to own a home in Truckee, Schermer figured the time was right after ending a relationship and seeing his dog die. He left Elvin Bishop’s band three years ago to move to Austin and join Ball’s group, which includes saxophonist Thad Scott, who, a story goes, recruited Schermer during a cocktail session on a Legendary Rhythm andamp; Blues Cruise.“Tahoe’s loss and Santa Cruz’s loss is much, much Austin’s gain,” Ball said. “We love him. I have nothing but compliments for my whole band at this point. He also plays with some blues bands around town and the regular Monday night blues. He’s become a regular part of our scene in a very short time.”Ball is part of a new organization HOME — Housing Opportunities for Musicians and Entertainers. HOME’s first fundraising concert includes Carolyn Wonderland and is Oct. 1. It will benefit Lavelle White, 83.“Lavelle is our first client and our inspiration,” Ball said.
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