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Michael Ballew Live At Gruene Hall (CD)

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1-CD with 32-page booklet, 19 tracks. Playing time approx. 70 mns. 'Now this,' said one... more

Michael Ballew: Live At Gruene Hall (CD)

1-CD with 32-page booklet, 19 tracks. Playing time approx. 70 mns.

'Now this,' said one reviewer, 'is country. Just a couple of guys in a Texas honky tonk.' Michael Ballew's songs are a tapestry of Texas life and music. A lot of country, a little swing, a taste of Tex-Mex. It's the sound of warm nights and cold beer. On numerous performances in the USA and Europe this nice Texan guy with his unmistakeable voice has proven how a full blooded musician can inspire any audience, just with his guitar and his voice. Michael Ballew puts his heart in every single performance, at big festivals, privat cowboy or ranch parties or just in front of three guests in a roadhouse somewhere on this planet. This CD is an impressive proof of his live-capabilities. The 18 titles include Damned Ol' Beer, I Can't Drive Home, Texas Gal, I'm Leavin' These Honky Tonks, Sixteen Tons, The Cowboy And the Preacher and I Love Texas.

Michael Ballew January 25, 1997
The prospect of making a live CD is something every performer looks at with a wary eye and, I confess, I was no different. For several years I've been getting requests from my fans in Europe and the United States for a recording of my acoustic solo performance — and the time seemed right.

The original plan was to record two or three nights and then pick the best songs, but I got to thinking that's like cheating and, if nothing else, I wanted this to be honest. I had a gig coming up at Gruene Hall, (one of my favorite places to play) and the weather was good so I decided to go with one performance and if I made some mistakes, so be it. After all, that's the chance an entertainer takes on any one show, so I plunged in knowing I would get wet and hoping not to drown.

I walked around the block a few times, did a set up or two, drank a beer or ten, and went for it. I did get my bass player Sill Colbert from my Damn Good Texas Sand to play with me to get a fuller, more rounded sound, and we hit it lucky. It turned out to be a beautiful central Texas day, a good crowd turned out and a great time was had by all, myself and Sill included.

Other than the usual problems of editing, we didn't have to do anything to the tapes and I can proudly say its honest. As Daddy told me years ago, "if it's not broke, dont mess with it". It wasn't and I didn't.

This CD is dedicated to my wonderful fans who are the reason I keep on keeping on. It seems to go down best with beer.
This one's for you my friends.
Michael Ballew

P.S. I'd like to thank my sweetheart, my pal, my Texas gal Susan for being with me through the thick and the thin.

Article properties: Michael Ballew: Live At Gruene Hall (CD)

Ballew, Michael - Live At Gruene Hall (CD) CD 1
01 Hot Spot
02 Damned Ol' Beer
03 The Whiskey's Fine
04 I Can't Drive Home
05 I Can't Do That (Anymore)
06 Leavin' These Honky Tonks
07 I Love To Ride
08 Texas Gal
09 Top Of The World
10 Heavy On The Blues
11 Where Are The Rangers
12 Sixteen Tons
13 The Music Is Sweet
14 Darkside On The Dance Floor
15 The Old Cowboy
16 Cowboy And The Preacher
17 Texas Blue Water
18 I Love Texas
MICHAEL BALLEW   Daddy Don't Live In Heaven  In 1980 I took a trip to Los Angeles... more
"Michael Ballew"

MICHAEL BALLEW  

Daddy Don't Live In Heaven 

In 1980 I took a trip to Los Angeles to show several of my songs to a friend of mine, John English. At the time John was working for Val Garay who owned a state of the art studio, Record One in Sherman Oaks, and was at the peak of his career after producing and winning awards from the latest Kim Carnes 'Betty Davis Eyes' albumJohn liked the song Bob Moulds and I wrote Daddy Don't Live In Heaven so much, he suggested we cut it along with several other songs I wrote to see if he could find a record deal for me. The sessions came out great and every major label we went to wanted to sign me on the power of this one song. We settled on Liberty Records, the newly revived label of the past, that was now under the EMI America umbrella.

Liberty was so sure they had a hit and potential star on their hands, they gave us a handsome budget to complete an album. Although six of my original compositions are on this album, the top dogs at the label thought it best for John to take a trip to Nashville to collect the remainder of the material. They wanted the emphasis on dance music instead of lyrical content so we proceeded with what we felt was the most danceable, commercial songs he could find.

Just about the time Liberty released Daddy Kenny Rogers sued Liberty Records and won 13 million dollars in back royalties. We fought with them tooth and nail, but it became clear they just didn't have enough money or resources left to properly promote all the singles they were releasing. Of course they were concentrating on their established artists, but even without adequate promotion, Daddy Don't Live In Heaven advanced onto the charts. Liberty then quickly released a tune John and I wrote Pretending Fool and with no promotion at all, climbed faster and further on the charts than the first single.

Of interest is the fact that when John English was shopping for songs in Nashville, the publisher for Lionel Richie gave the song Oh No to him and told us we could record it because he didn't think Lionel was going to release it. Oh No was scheduled to be my third single. It later went on to be a huge pop hit for Lionel. Such is life!


Despite the warm reception my records received from disc jockeys and fans, Liberty released me from my contract along with almost all the Liberty roster at the time, about 25 total artists – so the album was never issued and started gathering dust in the tape graveyard.

I was never sure what I thought of the Nashville songs, or my vocal approach to this album. I was singing my heart out trying to drive the band along thinking "I'll get to sing these again for real after the band gets their parts", but John and Val thought the first takes were great, so all the vocals are the originals. Now, as I listen to the album after all these years, I like it. As a matter of fact, it sound somewhat '90s line dance. Very high energy!

So boys and girls – put on your dancing shoes!

The musicians backing me up on these songs basically consist of the then Kim Carnes Band. They had absolutely no concept of country music, but they could sure rock the hell out of it. A good rock band playing country music. Sound familiar!

I hope, you enjoy it. We sure had fun making it and I'm glad after all these years it has been digitally revived and found a new home with Bear Family Records. - MICHAEL BALLEW

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Tracklist
Ballew, Michael - Live At Gruene Hall (CD) CD 1
01 Hot Spot
02 Damned Ol' Beer
03 The Whiskey's Fine
04 I Can't Drive Home
05 I Can't Do That (Anymore)
06 Leavin' These Honky Tonks
07 I Love To Ride
08 Texas Gal
09 Top Of The World
10 Heavy On The Blues
11 Where Are The Rangers
12 Sixteen Tons
13 The Music Is Sweet
14 Darkside On The Dance Floor
15 The Old Cowboy
16 Cowboy And The Preacher
17 Texas Blue Water
18 I Love Texas