Delbert McClinton and Marcia Ball 9-10-2005
Delbert and Marcia Do Us Proud at Cerritos
By Glen Creason
The stars all seemed to be aligned at the Performing Arts Center over the weekend for something special. The folks who gathered to hear Delbert McClinton and Marcia Ball lugged fairly heavy hearts, still thinking of their countrymen and women in distress down in New Orleans and Mississippi. It was serendipity that on this weekend we in Cerritos could be treated to some sweet Louisiana sounds from the best of the best. What happened in the big hall on this night was a perfect example of the power of music and the value of such sung from the heart. It was a wonderfully refreshing, invigorating and healing evening based directly in the soul of the Crescent City and played with a hopeful energy that is the strong pulse of American music.
Marcia Ball opened the show and blew the lid off the glittering hall with her barrelhouse piano playing and head tossed back rhythm and blues singing. Without hesitation she announced “my heart is in Louisiana” and offered sentiment for the inspiration of her show from “our best city.” Thus declared the band launched into “Rockin’ Is Our Business” and did not look back. Ms. Ball sitting cross-legged at her electric piano demonstrated just how fine the New Orleans sound can be when touched by a master’s hand. She romped through “Red Beans,” a sultry “Just Kiss Me,” “Down the Road” and “Crawfishin” without hardly taking a breath. Pat Boyack on guitar sent up sizzling guitar leads alongside the Ball operations on the 88’s and the crowd just rocked like they were on Bourbon street during Mardi Gras. The good times took a time out when the lanky lady mournfully performed Randy Newman’s oh so poignant “Louisiana 1927” with its baleful refrain “they’re trying to wash us away, they’re trying to wash us away.” All the goose bumps of watching the week’s devastation returned. A standing ovation lasted so long, the band had to eventually launch into the good-timey “Let Me Play With Your Poodle” that put the Louisiana street car back on track once again. The modest Marcia Ball took her bows amidst another standing O but gave up the stage to Delbert McClinton.
Normally, you would pity the act that would follow a performer who finished their show with two standing ovations but McClinton seemed unfazed and just leapt over a bar that had been set way up there. Opening with his trademark bluesy rockers “Take Me to the River,” “Shaky Ground,” “Maybe Someday Baby,” and a string of southern soaked R&B beauties he hardly took a breath save to mop the sweat for the first hour. Highlights included “I Had a Real Good Time” from his newest CD and the lament “Your Memory, Me and the Blues.” The McClinton band is truly extraordinary, lead by baby-faced guitar assassin Rob McNelley, sax-blaster Donald Wise and keyboardist Red Young. They played at a roof-lifting level for a hefty two hour set which was nobly dedicated to the great Gatemouth Brown who passed on Saturday. Delbert answered the calls from the audience with “Read Me My Rights,” “Giving It Up for Your Love,” and “Every time I Roll the Dice” but got his own standing ovations on a duet with Marcia Ball of “Crying Time” and the deep-fried “Going Back to Louisiana” spiced Cajun-style by McNeeley’s guitar. The ecstatic crowd, despite the late hour refused to let the band go. Encores of “Bye Bye Baby,” “Wild Weekend” and “Fine and Healthy Thing” were just hot fresh New Orleans beignet on top of a very filling musical feast.