Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Holly Woodlawn Has Lived The Life!

All Photos:  Alan Mercer   Make-Up: Theresa Ford  
Stylist:  Irene Soderberg  
Photo Shoot Coordinator:  Joseph Anthony Goodwin

The legendary Lou Reed song ‘Take a Walk on the Wild Side’ opens with a reference to Holly Woodlawn, indelibly imprinting her story in American pop culture. "Holly Came From Miami, F-L-A..." are the beginning lyrics forever describing Holly's arrival in New York City and ultimate imprint on the landscape of 1970s chique.

Born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico, Holly grew up in Miami Beach, where she came out at a young age.  Holly is best known as an Andy  Warhol Superstar and has appeared in his movies ‘Trash’ in 1970 and ‘Women in Revolt’ in 1972.

The name Holly came from the heroine of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany's,’ and in 1969 added the surname from a sign she saw on an episode of ‘I Love Lucy.’  After changing her name she began to tell people she was the heiress to Woodlawn Cemetery.

In 1962, Holly left Florida, heading north. She recollects that "I hocked some jewelry and ... made it all the way to Georgia, where the money ran out and ... had to hitchhike the rest of the way" to New York.  By 1969, she had considered sex reassignment surgery, but decided against it.

In October of 1969, she was given a bit role in ‘Trash,’ but so impressed director Paul Morrissey that she was given a much larger role. In 1970, she received word from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that the legendary Hollywood Director, George Cukor, supported by others, was petitioning the Academy to nominate her for best actress for her work in ‘Trash,’ however, nothing came of this campaign.

In 1982, Holly was hired by the producers of ‘Tootsie’ to coach Dustin Hoffman in his role as 'Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels' in the art of being a man acting as a woman in films.
Holly’s autobiography, ‘The Holly Woodlawn Story: A Low Life in High Heels’ was published by St. Martin's Press in October 1991.  The book chronicles Holly’s life as a "shopaholic," boozehound, drug abuser, and cross-dressing "glamourina."

Holly Woodlawn continued to make cameo appearances in plays and films such as ‘Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss’ throughout the 1980s and 1990s. After Andy Warhol's death, she was interviewed frequently on his life and influence.  

Currently, Holly can be seen making three cameo appearances on Season One of the critically acclaimed amazon original program ‘Transparent.’

Special THANKS to Joseph Anthony Goodwin.

AM:  Holly I think it’s so fantastic that you are on ‘Transparent.”  How did that happen?

HW:  A friend of mine called me and told me amazon was making a new show that I would be perfect for and it was about a seventy year old divorced man with children, who wants to become a woman. 

AM:  Did you ever think there would be a show like this in your lifetime?

HW:  Never!   I practically started the whole thing in the 70s.  When I did ‘Trash’ for Andy Warhol, I never thought I’d see it in a regular theater.  I thought it would stay underground. 

AM:  Not only that, ‘Trash’ has lasted and still has legs and you weren’t even supposed to be in that movie were you?

HW:  No, they didn’t know who I was yet.  I told an underground magazine interviewer I was an Andy Warhol Superstar already and they published it.  Paul Morrissey was upset about it, but he wanted to meet me.  He was intrigued by my boldness.  I went to his office and he asked me why I was lying about being cast in the movie.  I charmed him enough that he gave me a one scene part that he paid me $25.00 for.  He liked me enough to put me in the whole movie and the rest is history.

AM:  Wow that made your whole career!

HW:  I sure got more than my 15 minutes.   

AM:  Now the ‘trans’ world is a very big topic.

HW:  It’s about time.  There are so many talented people in the world who are transgender and now they’re being recognized. 

AM:  Do you have an opinion on Bruce Jenner?

HW:  I really don’t care about Bruce Jenner.  That’s his life.  I don’t like any of that Kardashian thing.  I can’t be bothered with any of them.

AM:  How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a different gender?

HW:  I was six years old.

AM:  Did you let people know?

HW:  As much as I could.

AM:  What did your parents think?

HW:   My parents didn’t know anything until I was sixteen when I ran away from home.  The story is documented in Lou Reed’s famous song ‘Walk On The Wild Side.’   I couldn’t stay in Miami.  I wanted to be in New York where the lights, the action and the people are.

AM:  Did you always want to be an entertainer?

HW:  Yes, I just didn’t know what or how.

AM:  Do you find acting creatively fulfilling?

HW:  Yes, even though I only did 5 minutes in ‘Transparent.’ 

AM:  I’d love to see much more of you in the next season of ‘Transparent.’  Do a lot of people want to interview you?

HW:  Yes, I do a lot of Q and A’s.  I’ve also done my nightclub act in New York and in Europe.  I’m more appreciated on the East Coast and definitely Europe.

AM:  When was the last time you saw ‘Trash?’

HW:  Last year they had a screening with Joe Dallesandro in a cemetery!  It was screened at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  (laughter) 

AM:  I love your autobiography from 1991, ‘A Low Life In High Heels.”  Was it therapeutic to write your life down?

HW:  Yes, I finally realized how funny I was.  I also realized how much I LIVED and had a life.

AM:  Do you have any future plans Holly?

HW:  There’s talk of making a documentary on my life.  Also I sold the rights to ‘A Low Life In High Heels’ for a film to be made from that.  I just returned from Austin, Texas where I was part of the Austin Drag Festival with Charles Busch and Lady Bunny.

AM:  Did you have fun and enjoy Austin?

HW:  Yes I did have fun and the event was a huge success, but Austin gave me allergies!

AM:  People think of you as always glamorous Holly.  Do you try to maintain that image?

HW:   Either I am dressed up to go out or I slop around the house in shorts and a t-shirt.  I’m still the same person no matter what I’m wearing.  Now we can wear anything anytime.  When I first ran away to New York you could be arrested for female impersonation.

Monday, May 11, 2015


All Photos:  Alan Mercer
Make-up: Sandra Sanz
Hair: Melissa Herrera
Photo Shoot Coordinator:  Mauricio Carrera 

Quinceañera is the Spanish word for a girl who is 15 years old. Among Latinos in the United States, quinceañera also is the name given to the coming-of-age celebration on a girl’s 15th birthday.

The quinceañera has its origins many centuries ago when both boys and girls participated in rites of passage. To prepare for womanhood, girls were separated from other children at a certain age so the elder women could teach them about their future roles as members of family and community. During the official rites of passage, the community would thank the gods for the future wives and mothers, and the young women would vow to serve the community.

Later, missionaries turned the event into a personal affirmation of faith by the young women and a pledge to become good Christian wives and mothers. A church celebration became an important part of the occasion.

Today, the quinceañera celebration often is a lavish party that may include a mariachi band, a feast and many guests—much like a wedding. Planning for a quinceañera can start as early as the birth of a daughter. The family and godparents save up money until the girl is of age. Actual preparations may take anywhere from six months to a year and a half. Dances have to be learned, decorations decided upon, cakes ordered, and in some cases, dresses made.

The tradition of the Quinceañera continues to influence popular Mexican youth culture today.   Its traditions have been linked to ancient Aztec rites of passage for young women; however, no one knows the exact birth of the Quinceanera, which only adds more to its mythological elements of identity.

 One myth revolving around the Aztec tradition explains how around the age of fifteen, young girls were being prepared for marriage. Women in Aztec society were not considered an important part of the functioning society, and often times the education of many young girls was placed in the hands of the elder women of the community.   Important tasks and traditions such as weaving, cooking, housekeeping and child rearing were passed down through generations to the next girl of appropriate age.   During this time as well, the young girls were taught the modest behaviors of a married women and were expected to change according to tradition.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Candy Clark: The Accidental Actress

All Photos:  Alan Mercer

Candy Clark is best known for her role as Debbie Dunham in the film ‘American Graffiti,’ which garnered her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. 'American Graffiti,' nominated for five Academy Awards and grossing more than $200 million, overshadows everything else.  The film was set in Modesto, California, but primarily filmed in Petaluma in only 28 days. The schedule was grueling for Candy and co-stars like Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Harrison Ford and Suzanne Somers.   She reprised the role for the sequel ‘More American Graffiti .’

Candy is also known for her role as Francine Hewitt in ‘The Blob.’  Her other films of note are ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth,’ with David Bowie, ‘The Big Sleep,’ ‘Blue Thunder,’ ‘Cat's Eye’ and ‘At Close Range.’  She has also made guest appearances on television series including ‘Dating Game,’’ Magnum, P.I.,’’ Simon & Simon,’ ‘Matlock,’ ‘Baywatch Nights’ and ‘Criminal Minds.’

Born in Norman, Oklahoma, she grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. She attended Green B. Trimble Technical High School.  She dated Jeff Bridges, whom she met on the set of Fat City, for several years.  After two brief marriages, Candy quickly replies “Never!” when asked if she would ever remarry .  Today, she attends many hot rod shows, and enjoys gardening, collecting antiques, and trading memorabilia on eBay.

Candy appears in the 2009 film The Informant! as the mother of Mark Whitacre, played by Matt Damon.  In 2011, Candy went to Berlin to work on the play Images of Louise Brooks directed by Sven Mundt.

I met with Candy at her home in Los Angeles for a casual photo shoot and a quick conversation in her backyard, where she has three chickens running around.

AM:  Candy, I think it’s wonderful that you just finished filming a new movie where you are the lead.  What is the title and what’s it about?

CC:  Yes, it’s called ‘Cold Moon’ based on the book ‘Cold Moon Over Babylon’ written by Michael McDowell.   The book was a big hit in the Eighties.   I play a character named Evelyn Larkin.

AM:  Did you enjoy the filming experience?

CC:  It was a lot of fun.   I enjoyed getting into a role where I played a grandma.  I wore a grey wig.  It was fun having more than a days work.  Lately I have been getting good films but small parts. 

AM:  That seems to be the norm for most actors.

CC:  I felt like a glorified extra on ‘Zodiac.’

AM:  Most of us remember you best from the classic ‘American Graffiti.’

CC:  That was the second film I did.  The first one was ‘Fat City’ directed by John Huston.   That’s a great movie.

AM:  That’s right!  How did it feel to know you had never made a movie and you were going to be working with a legend like John Huston?

CC:  Fortunately I didn’t really know who John Huston was.  I wasn’t the person who followed films or people in films at that time.  Being from Fort Worth, Texas, my highest aspiration was to be a secretary, suddenly I was working with Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrrell, Ray Stark, Stacy Keach and all these great people.  Ray Stark became my inspiration for collecting art.  Ray had big bronze Henry Moore sculptures in his backyard.  I realized I liked art so I started collecting.

AM:  So how did you even get into acting?

CC: From my modeling work.  I had moved to New York City and got involved in modeling. 

AM:  Did you enjoy being a model?

CC:  The first year was really hard because I didn’t know how to pose in front of a camera in a relaxed way.   I always thought you had to freeze for the camera but then after a year I realized the camera freezes you.  Big difference!  Then I fell in love with modeling.  I really, really enjoyed it.  Once I realized how it was done I had a knack for it. 

AM:  You don’t hear that very often from women who have modeled.

CC:  I thought I was going to stay in New York and model forever.  I didn’t think past that. 

AM:  So you didn’t have an aspiration to act, but you just happened to be talented.

CC:  Well, I wanted to do extra work so I got a gig on a Dustin Hoffman film, ‘Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?’  I was in a crowd scene of two hundred people and I thought this is great!

AM:  What did you like about it the most?

CC:  I got to meet movie stars and eat donuts.  I really enjoyed that too.  I had to hit pause a lot but I think I found myself in that crowd scene when I watched it on line.

AM:  So you thought extra work was awesome?

CC:  I wanted to do more extra work so I went to my agents office and met a very famous casting director, Fred Roos.  He asked me if I wanted to go watch the screen test for ‘The Godfather.’  So I said, “Sure!”  This was at a time when if someone looked nice you’d just go off with them.  It was more of a hippie era.  It was a nicer era when people were nicer and more trustworthy. 

AM:  You couldn’t do that today!  We live in a different world now.

CC:  I would never think of going off with a stranger now. 

AM:  I find it interesting and fascinating when someone ends up being successful as an actor when it wasn’t what they were going after.

CC: Yes it’s all by accident!

AM:  I’m used to people struggling and suffering.

CC:  Well I struggled and suffered for a year with modeling.  

AM:  George Lucas wasn’t a legend when you worked with him.

CC:  No he was just beginning. 

AM:  Did you enjoy working with him?

CC:  Yes, but I really enjoyed the script from ‘American Graffiti.’ 

AM:  You occupy a special place Candy.  No other actor is anything like you.

CC: Do you know any other actor raising chickens?

AM:  LOL I don’t know about that.  Your personality comes off as very unique.

CC: Thank you.

AM:  You seem to really appreciate life.

CC:  I do.  I come from a very poor background so I do appreciate a lot.  I appreciate animals, reading and collecting.  I love estate sales and yard sales.  I’m a garage sale junkie.

AM:  Is that how you fill your spare time?

CC:  Yes, most of the things in my house are from a second hand store or an estate sale.  I don’t care for new things. 

AM:  Do you feel the spirit in these things?

CC:  Yes, I even prefer used clothing because they’ve been broken in.  Now they make new clothing to look like it’s used. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Nick Guerra: The Little Long Haired Comic

All Photos:  Alan Mercer

With just under a decade into stand up, Nick Guerra has won over crowds from all walks of life. Whether it is performing from clubs to colleges to any place with a stage, Nick has shown that dedication and continuous work has paid off. His style balances all topics. Current events, relationship humor, and personal stories have become his arsenal when given a microphone. Many times the crowds never knew what to expect with Nick but were never disappointed.

Nick was an audience favorite on NBC’s 'Last Comic Standing' (Season 8). He was a writer, asst. director, actor and story producer for the Mun 2 reality show 'Pitbull’s La Esquina' (2nd season), performed on Comedy Central’s 'Gabriel Iglesias Stand Up Revolution' (2nd season) and Nuvo TV’s 'Stand Up & Deliver' (2nd season).

Nick is destined to be a major force in the comedy world.  I met with him on an afternoon in Dallas, where his career got started ten years ago.

AM:  Nick I can’t imagine being on a TV Comedy contest.  What was it like for you?

NG:  The experience was great.  I loved it.  The hardest part about doing a contest is the pre-screening where they want to see your act.  If you’re a joke writer, it’s always funny, but if you’re someone like me who is more performance based, it doesn’t read funny.  You have to see it.  So they had to see me on stage before they were able to get it.  I loved doing the show.  I got a standing ovation on the first episode.  I don’t know if they showed it because I never saw the actual episode.  If you focus on just doing your show you can forget about the cameras and the competition. 

AM:  How long have you been doing your act?

NG:   I’m ten years in now. 

AM:  Did you know you were funny at a young age?

NG:  You don’t know it through your own experience unless you have a really big ego.  You don’t live in the third person.   It was always other people who told me I was funny.  I was told I would always sing songs and try to make people laugh when I was a small child.  I don’t remember that, but I do remember always trying to get people to laugh.  Everyone in my life has told me I was funny. 

AM:  What gave you the confidence to go professional?

NG:   Going professional just snuck up on me. 

AM:  Did you have any other intentions or aspirations in your life?

NG:  I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for comedy right now.  I didn’t plan on this.  The funny thing about comedy is there is no real route.  There is nothing to tell you, you are advancing.  If you stay in it long enough you get fans and clubs get to know you.   It’s been gradual for me and that’s exactly how I want it.  More people recognize me since being on ‘Last Comic.’  It keeps you natural when it’s gradual.

AM:   Do you notice the laughs are bigger now that some people know who you are?

NG:  Yes, it helps a little bit.  The people who may not know me will laugh more because the other people are laughing.

AM:  Do you come from a big family?

NG:   I have a huge family, but my immediate family is just two sisters.  I have cousins, aunt and uncles everywhere!   The last show I did in Houston had seventeen family members in the audience. 

AM: Does family make you more nervous?

NG:  No, I grew up performing in front of family.  At this point they’ve been warned. 

AM:  You don’t have so much adult material.

NG:  No I don’t.  At this point it’s just growing up and I’ve gotten tired of such graphic material.  Back when I started I was a little more blue.

AM:  I think it’s smart to not be so graphic so you can be on television.  You have to be funny on network TV.

NG:  Yes that’s true.  It’s so much easier to be vulgar.  But often when a comic is vulgar they don’t have a point to back it up.  I try to relate to the audience and let them know this is what I’m going through. 

AM:  So your work is based on honesty?

NG:  Yes as much as I can. 

AM:  I see you on television on a sitcom.  Do you want that?

NG:  Yes, it’s always an interest.  I’ve got a lot of things coming up this year that will probably help with that.  That will also be a gradual step.  I do come in under the radar.  I’ve always known that.  When I get on stage, people don’t expect me to be funny.  I don’t look funny.  If you see my picture I don’t pop off the page.  I have to take my performance up a notch so I CAN stand out.  I give it my all.  I’ve never acted before so we’ll see how that goes. 

AM:  Do you know Cristela?

NG:  Yes I know her very well.  We both came from the same place and both started here in Dallas and moved to LA.  It’s very difficult to produce a Latino based comedy for ABC.  They have to be so careful.  They want it to be nice and non-offensive.  That’s what every show does on the first season. 

AM:  Do you have any idea what the concept for a show for you would be?

NG:  Oh man, it would just be me getting mad at women for 30 minutes.  I do have ideas.  Mine would be about my bad romantic life.  For some reason that is something I’m good at.  I love to pick up on couples interactions.  I have to force myself to write other topics otherwise my act would be an hour of relationship talk. 

AM:  Do you write all the time or is it more spontaneous?

NG:  It’s both.  I always have comedy in my head and I’m always thinking of ways to improve a bit. 

To learn more about Nick Guerra visit his web site http://nickguerra.com/

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mamie Van Doren: Ten Year Anniversary Portfolio

Mamie Van Doren      March 2015

Our first "classic" photo 2005

In 2005 I had been working in Los Angeles four years already.  I was blessed to be working steadily as a Celebrity Photographer during this time, shooting people like Smokey Robinson and Steven Speilberg.  I also had a bucket list of people I really wanted to photograph and number one on that list was the sexy Actress, Mamie Van Doren.  Luckily for me, Mamie was ahead of her time and already had a big web site filled with current, as well as vintage photographs.  I could see Mamie still looked sensational, even though she was into her mid Seventies.  I composed an email telling her how much I adored her and would she be interested in shooting with me.  She wrote back immediately with an astounding, "YES!"

I was over the moon with excitement, but she didn't give me any clue as to WHEN she would be ready to shoot, so I wrote her back and boldly asked, "When?"  It took her a few days to answer this time but she gave me a date a couple weeks away and we were set for a day in March.

The day finally arrived when Mamie, her husband Thomas and my four assistants were in the North Hollywood studio.  One always imagines what someone they have looked up to and admired will be like once reality comes and you hope you will not be disappointed.  I didn't have to be concerned.  Mamie was everything I could ever want and MORE!  She was so alive and full of positive energy.  We had an amazing photo shoot and I honestly felt like I made a new friend.

Once the photos were available, we all loved them.  We even got a classic shot the very first time out.  You can see the red skirt flowing here while Mamie danced around joyfully.  After this session we decided we had to do it again.  We had more great results.  We kept shooting and shooting routinely after this and built up quite a large portfolio with the passing years.  Now ten years after we started we got together in 2015 to celebrate our ten year working relationship and even more importantly, our ten year friendship.  

I do not believe I will ever have another relationship with anyone else I photograph even remotely like the one I have with the larger than life, Miss Van Doren.  I am her photographer, her student, her creative partner, her admirer and her friend.  She is my eternal creative muse.

I have picked out ten of my favorite photos over the past ten years to share on my blog.  I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed creating them with Mamie!

To learn more about Mamie van Doren visit her web site http://www.mamievandoren.com/

Monday, February 23, 2015

Marcia Ball: Louisiana Music Woman

All Photos:  Alan Mercer

Marcia Ball is a blues singer and pianist, born in Orange, Texas who was raised in Vinton, Louisiana.  She was described in USA Today as "a sensation, saucy singer and superb pianist... where Texas stomp-rock and Louisiana blues-swamp meet."  The Boston Globe described her music as "an irresistible celebratory blend of rollicking, two-fisted New Orleans piano, Louisiana swamp rock and smoldering Texas blues from a contemporary storyteller."

Marcia was born into a musical family. Her grandmother and aunt both played piano music of their time and Ball started piano lessons when she started school, and showed an early interest in New Orleans style piano playing, as exemplified by Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, and James Booker. She has named Irma Thomas, the New Orleans vocalist, as her chief vocal inspiration. Ball studied English at Louisiana State University in the 1960s while playing in a band called Gum.  In 1970, at age 21, she started a progressive country band called Freda and the Firedogs in Austin, Texas, and began her solo career in 1974.

Marcia Ball's piano style includes elements of zydeco, swamp blues, Louisiana blues and boogie woogie.  She began her recording career as a solo artist with Rounder Records in the 1980s and early 1990s.  In 2001, she joined Chicago-based Alligator Records.

Her Rounder album, ‘Sing It!,’ which featured vocalists Irma Thomas and Tracy Nelson, released in January 1998 was nominated for a Grammy Award and a Blues Music Award for "Best Contemporary Blues Album." Marcia received the 1998 Blues Music Award for "Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year" and "Best Blues Instrumentalist-Keyboards."  She was awarded "Contemporary Blues Album of the Year" for her albums ‘Presumed Innocent’ in 2002 and ‘So Many Rivers.’  The same year she also won "Contemporary Blues Artist of the Year-Female."  She won the "Best Blues Instrumentalist-Keyboards" again in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. Her 2003 Alligator release, ‘So Many Rivers,’ was nominated for a Grammy as were ‘Live! Down The Road’ in 2005 and ‘Peace, Love & BBQ’ in 2008. She was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame in 1990.

Marcia has continued to work with Irma Thomas. In 2006, the two contributed a duet ("Look Up") on the New Orleans Social Club release, ‘Sing Me Back Home.’  In 2007, the two contributed another duet ("I Can't Get New Orleans Off My Mind") to ‘Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino.’

Marcia Ball continues to play at nightclubs, particularly in Austin and New Orleans, and performs at music festivals in North America and overseas.  Her newest album is titled 'The Tatooed Lady and the Alligator Man.'

AM:  Marcia, Can you talk a little about growing up in Louisiana?

MB:  I’m from a little town on the Texas/Louisiana state line.  My entire family heritage is in Louisiana.  I come from a deeply rooted Cajun family. 

AM:  Was music a natural part of your life from day one?

MB:  My grandmother’s father was a musician and composer.  My grandmother played piano and her daughter, my aunt, played piano and her daughter, my cousin, played piano.  I remember one day a piano appeared in my house and I started piano lessons. 

AM:  When was this?

MB:  At the same time I started going to school. 

AM:  So playing piano seemed natural for you?

MB:  It was natural and it was what we did.  I come from a generation that still gathered after Sunday dinner around the piano.  We’d all take turns playing the piano. 

AM:  Did you sing as a child?

MB:  No I didn’t sing.

AM:  When did you start singing?

MB:  When I got to college.  That’s the other part in the incredible timing of my life.  When I got to college in 1966 the whole world was changing.  I met a girl who sang.  She had been doing folk music duos with another girl who went back home.  So I was recruited to sing harmony and it turns out I could sing them.  I think I never thought of singing because growing up on Tin Pan Alley sheet music, all those girl parts were high.  I couldn’t reach those notes so I thought I couldn’t sing.  When I first heard Odetta, I was thunderstruck. 

AM:  What classes were you taking in college?

MB:  Mostly English.

AM:  What did you think you were going to do?

MB:  Well, mostly I like to read and write so I took some journalism classes.  I didn’t know what I was going to do.  If I had kept on going I would probably have been a librarian.  But I dropped out of school to follow music.

AM:  When was it apparent that music would be your career?

MB:  I got in a band not long after I dropped out and enjoyed it, but I also had a day job at a radio station.  Also I got married and moved to Austin.  I met some people in Austin who were a lot more established with a following and some connections.  So I got in a band with them and from that time on, which was 1972, I never looked back.

AM:  Were you surprised to know you could actually sing lead?

MB:  Yes and at that time I was singing Top 40 which was Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, so singing was not exactly what I was doing.  It was more like shouting. 

AM:  So you must have learned how to refine your vocals.

MB:  Along the way I did.  The first band I was a part of in Austin was a Country Music band.  In Texas, Country Music had a lot of currency.  We all had long hair but we really loved the old, traditional music.  So we were singing traditional Country Music with frizzy hair sticking out of our cowboy hats and Austin went for it completely.  This is when Austin became the drawing place for anyone who wanted to perform like that.  This is right before Willie Nelson moved there. 

AM:  Are you happy living in Austin?

MB:  I am!  I loved it from the moment I got there.  My husband and I had been living in Baton Rouge and we were moving to San Francisco but we went through Austin and stopped to see some friends and we never left. 

AM:  Where did you record ‘Circuit Queen’ album?

MB:  I actually recorded that one in Nashville for Capitol Records.  They signed a bunch of young talent at the time but for most of us, nothing happened. 

AM:  It’s a really good album.  Were you happy with it?

MB:  I was happy with it but I was scared to death at that time.  It was a great opportunity. 

AM:  You have been able to keep a long term recording career going.

MB:  Yes, it’s been remarkable.  I haven’t been on a lot of labels either. 

AM:  What is one of your favorite albums that you recorded?

MB:  One that I am most proud of is the one I did with Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton called ‘Dreams Come True’ and it took us five years to complete it.  That’s why we titled it ‘Dreams Come True.’

AM:  You name Irma Thomas as a major influence.

MB:  Yes I do.

AM:  I have photographed Irma and I love her as an artist and person.

MB:  She is a lovely person.  I saw her in New Orleans for the first time when I was thirteen. 

AM:  You are actually more associated with New Orleans than Austin.

MB: My music certainly is.  I always say about Austin, that I’m a piano player in a guitar town.  I’ve always played that Louisiana music. 

AM:  Do you play New Orleans a lot?

MB:  As much as I can.  We do real well there.  I’m pretty highly recognized there. 

AM:  You have a new album out and it’s so much fun!

MB:  It was just time to record a new album because we get tired of playing the same songs. 

AM:  I like how all your music is so much fun.

MB:   I like my music to be fun.  I don’t write or play from a place of angst. 

To learn more about Marcia Ball visit her web site http://www.marciaball.com/