Grammy Award-winning country music artist David Ball is honored to have USO shows, veteran charities' fundraisers, and tribute events for veterans and active duty service members as part of his annual tour schedule.
His longtime advocacy for U.S. military and veterans is appreciated, and in 2016, he was honored with the Chris Kyle Patriot Award from Operation Troop Aid, an organization that assembled care packages to send to soldiers overseas. Ball's biggest reward for his continued support is meeting so many great servicemen and women.
"They are great people, and they love their country and they love country music, which is wonderful. We have a lot in common," Ball said. "Anything I can do for current and active duty and veterans, I will do it."
Ball will do just that Saturday at Windstone Entertainment Event Center in Jefferson City. Performing some of his chart-topping singles from his past studio albums including the military-inspired "Riding With Private Malone" and brand new original music from his first album in eight years, "Come See Me," Ball will headline an upcoming veterans concert. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Central Missouri Honor Flight that transports American veterans as they visit the memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.
Long before Ball was a regular Nashville recording artist, breaking Billboard charts and getting an album platinum certified, he was listening to the variety of music his pianist mother played and listening to hit songs and artists on the radio like "Love Potion No. 9" and Elvis Presley while goofing around with his two older brothers in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Ball said a big musical influence for him was singer-songwriter Roger Miller, known for his honky-tonk influence and country and pop hits in the mid-1960s.
"I found Roger Miller as a 12-year-old and have loved listening to him all these years later," Ball said.
Many of those influences stuck and encouraged Ball to start writing his own music at a young age. In fact, he believed the first song he wrote was for a high school talent show called "Somebody Stole My Baby." Ball said he really came under Walter Hyatt's spell of songwriting after he started playing bass in Uncle Walt's Band, credited as the first Americana act, according to Ball's biography.
"I got to know (Hyatt) from all these songs he had written. Then there was Champ hood, a hot guitar player the two of them together, that was it. The perfect combination of harmony and great guitar players," Ball said. "I still use those songwriting techniques. Walter was very advanced and into all kinds of music. They were playing some really good folk music and at that time in the early '70s, nobody was really playing folk music; it was all about rock and roll. It was very refreshing."
Uncle Walt's Band played off and on for about 10 years. Then Ball's solo career led him to Nashville, Tennessee, where he signed a publishing deal and a recording contract, according to his biography. Ball recorded seven studio albums, including his platinum certified "Thinkin' Problem," with its title track slated as the top selling country song of 1994. Fourteen of his singles entered the Billboard charts, including "Riding With Private Malone" and making him one of the first artists to take an indie single to the Country Top 5.
Wood Newton, who co-wrote "Riding With Private Malone" with country artist Thom Sheperd, said in an article on TheBoot.com his cousin Jeff Davis Newton inspired the lyrics. Jeff, who served in Vietnam and earned two silver stars, was pleased to find out he had a Corvette waiting on him from his father when he returned home from the war. Unfortunately, he was killed in a car accident in the Corvette the night he got back, Newton described in the article.
The words to the song follow a man who buys a 1966 Corvette and finds a note in the glove box from a late Vietnam veteran Private Andrew Malone, who says he'll always ride with the owner. When Ball first heard Newton and Shepard's song, he was fascinated by the idea.
"There is this note in the glove box and it was very intriguing. It told this great story and honored veterans in the right way," Ball said. "It was a pleasure to sing that song that really touches anyone tied to the military. I have also got to meet some of the coolest people who came out of Vietnam and got to shake their hands and told me what that song meant to them. All kinds of people have responded to that song through the years, and I'm proud to be able to do that."
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Ball has also received a Grammy Award for the song "Old Folks At Home (Swanee River)" from the album "Beautiful Dreamer — The Songs of Stephen Foster;" was inducted into the Historic Spartanburg Music Trail in 2013 in his hometown joining others like Don Reno and Marshall Tucker Band; and performed a few weeks ago at the Country Music Hall of Fame while Ricky Skaggs, Johnny Gimble and Dottie West were inducted.
Ball said recording his "Come See Me" album at his home in Franklin, Tennessee, makes it one of his most personal albums. He describes the music as "melodic, hooky country music, the kind I grew up on," much like Roger Miller and represented well in the album's first single, "I Got A Broken Heart in the Mail" with the mixture of honky-tonk, blues, country and pinch of Tex-Mex flavor he loves.
"These songs are not over-produced, which I have been guilty of letting happen before. It goes out to the simpler representation of the songs and I had a great time making them," he said. "It was a joy. These tracks are not auto-tuned or use click tracks. It is all real and all an expression of music, coming through and has a trueness to it. You don't have to find me in the music because I'm right here. And a little of me might go a long way."
Veterans in attendance receiving some special tributes and honors during the evening, said Charles Stone, of Windstone Entertainment Event Center, 2425 Industrial Drive. Doors open at 5 p.m. with Prairie Moon opening for David Ball at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person. The Windstone Kitchen will be open with cash bar and a 50/50 raffle will be a part of the festivities.