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Marcia Ball 

Friday, April 1; Sheldon Concert Hall (3648 Washington Boulevard)

Marcia Ball grew up just on the Louisiana side of the Texas border and now resides in Austin, so it's only natural that her gutsy vocals and powerful barrelhouse-boogie piano style are a happy union of New Orleans R&B and Texas blues influences. The lanky singer-songwriter with the distinctive shock of white hair knows how to show a crowd a good time, too, as those who may have heard one of her frequent gigs here in the late '80s and early '90s will attest.

Ball has a winning personality and an easy command of the stage, and her longtime backup band is a tight, energetic group of pros. Those performance skills have served her well as she's moved from small clubs to concert halls and festivals, earning several Handy Awards and a Grammy nomination along the way. And while Ball's house-rocking chops are still very much intact, she's also grown as a songwriter with each successive album, as demonstrated most notably on her 2003 release, So Many Rivers.

With a new live CD ready for release this spring, Ball is on the road again and her longtime fans will be undoubtedly glad to see her back in St. Louis after too long an absence. She's proof positive that good songs, authentic soul and great musicianship never go out of style.

Show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and $30; call Metrotix at 314-534-1111 for more information.

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