top of page

Kevin William Ball

"I’ve known Kevin since the days of Billy Block’s Western Beat at the Exit/In. He’s always had an excitement and love for making his own brand of music centered on heartfelt songs. He has genuine heart and conviction, and we’ve made a record that, I hope, allows him to shine.”

— producer/musician/songwriter Dave Coleman

  Kevin William Ball refers to his  music as Americana Country Soul, and for good reason. It combines the essential ingredients that go under that broad umbrella popularly known as Americana while preserving the essential ingredients that are so vital to its absolute essence.
    “When I began my journey, an entire spectrum of Americana music was unfolding,” Kevin recalls. “I knew I wanted to be part of it.”
    The new album Coleman refers to, Helluva Town confirms the fact he’s succeeded. Produced by Dave Coleman at Coleman’s Howard’s Apartment Studio, it features special guests Tim Carroll, Pete Finney, Mark Robinson and Dana Cooper. The culmination of twenty years spent making music and shifting his style, it’s part of a trajectory spent exploring different sounds and mining his muse. The songs range from driving, determined and spirited rockers to moving, memorable tearstained ballads, all shared with the honesty and sincerity that continues to inform Kevin’s music and momentum.
    “I want to keep making music forever,” he insists. “Being a songwriter first and foremost is really what I do. I’m not the kind of player that rehearses licks or runs. However if you give me my guitar, a pad, a pen, a groove, a line, a hook, and a feel, I’ll make the most of all those ingredients. That’s my true purpose, and why I say, it's truly a 'soul' thing.”

    The songs affirm that fact. Kevin points to the title track, the rousing and robust “Helluva Town,” as the summation of the experiences he’s encountered in Nashville since initially arriving in Music City in 1989. “Me and my co-writer Dan Eubanks were sitting around my writing table one night drinking, smoking and bitching and this one came out of that,” he notes. “It’s pretty much what you do in any town when you're trying to make it.  Nashville happened to be ours. It is a ‘Helluva Town’….”

    Another city takes center stage in the aching yet engaging “You Ever Get To Memphis,” a song sung from a decidedly personal perspective. “It’s special to me,” Kevin explains. “I co-wrote this when I was visiting Memphis on weekends and I was seeped in the blues. It just sort of came to me —  the hook, the chords, and the feel. I sat down with Julie Zietlin, who has such a way with words, and we knocked it out in one session. There are a gazillion songs about Memphis out there, but I love what ours has to say about a songwriter and performer who has a love of the blues and trying to discover what it takes to find love in this lonely world. In fact, it’s the story of my life.”

    Kevin said the affecting yet assertive “Train Song” also bears special significance. “It’s an older song that I wrote in the late ‘90s when I realized I didn't have a train song in my catalog,” he laughs. “Imagine that! Then one day an East Nashville character Skip Litz-Scruffy, a loud-mouthed, opinionated guy who worked sound at the Radio Cafe, yelled at me before I started playing one night. ‘Play a fucking train song’ he shouted, the same thing he would yell at any artist he knew — and he knew many. So that sent me back home that night to write a train song. The next time I played Radio Cafe, Skip yelled “'Play a fucking train song’ and this time I was ready. I always dedicate it to Uncle Skip who happened to love the song so much, he put a live recording of it up on his website before he suddenly passed away.”

    The tender autobiographical ballad “California Kid” also has special meaning, although Kevin admits that at first he didn’t want to record it. “I thought it too sentimental,” he recalls. “But when I played it for my producer Dave Coleman, he wanted it for the record which kinda made me smile after having my doubts about it. I was a ‘California Kid,’ and that imagery was an inherent part of my soul. Sunshine, beaches, Disneyland, Sheriff John every day at noon on TV along with Roy Rogers and Trigger and the Lone Ranger. To this day I still dream about California. I’m so glad Dave talked me into it. It's really my favorite song on the album.”

    That’s hardly a surprise. Born in California and raised in Southwest Michigan, Kevin grew up playing in rock, country, blues, and bluegrass bands, beginning at the age of 12. He started writing songs at 15, and he began making it a point to perform his original material along with covers early on. His initial offering was a 45 called “Somewhere Somehow Lady,” which was released in 1974. It quickly climbed up the local charts in Detroit and Chicago. 

    Soon after moving to Nashville in 1989, he secured publishing deals with Music Business Inc., Crosswinds and Curb Publishing, and, as a result, landed two album cuts on Rick Vincent’s debut album A Wanted Man, which was released on Curb Records in 1994.
    That was just the beginning. In 1995, he landed a spec deal for his band The Benderz with independent producer Jaime Klee. In 2001, he formed the band Kevin Ball and the Busters, a group that spotlighted his original songs while covering a wide gamut of  country, roots, and blues. The band then went on to release their debut album Bite the Bullet. 

    More milestones followed. In 2010, his band won first place at the Marion James Valentine's Day Battle of the Blues Bands competition. The following year, he released his solo debut, Mexi-Tele Blue. That led to a series of independent offerings that kicked off with 2016’s Brand New  Boogie, followed by 2018’s Blues Troubadour and the heretofore unreleased Back Roads of Inglewood, recorded in 2022.

    “It takes a lot of stamina to become a successful singer/songwriter,” Kevin suggests. For Kevin, it also involved a change in tack, one which find him veering away from his ten year immersion in the blues and onward towards the broader spectrum of Americana.
    “It’s all about honing the craft, Kevin muses. 

    He should know. “Music was big in our house when I was growing up,” Kevin insists. “We had a 1950s stereo record player on which we played Broadway musicals, cowboy songs and the great crooners of the day, not to mention the emerging rock and roll artists of the mid to late ‘50s. ‘El Kabong,' the cartoon, definitely inspired me in a strange way once I found there was a plastic guitar in the house. Fortunately, I didn't bonk anyone with it. Instead, I tried to play it. When my parents split up and we moved from California to Michigan, I was feeling rather melancholy and morose, so it was the sad songs that moved me deeply. When I finally got my hands on a real guitar and began learning to play, it changed my life. Then, of course, came the Beatles…”

    Guy Clark and Townes van Zandt furthered his fascination, now evidenced more than ever courtesy of his riveting new LP.

    “Thank God for music,” Kevin says. “I chapter my life by the artists that moved me and the songs I played and wrote. From my early days of ‘60s rock ’n’ roll to the ‘70s and the singer/songwriter era and beyond, writing songs has always been just a natural move for me.”
    His contemporaries agree. “I’ve known Kevin a long time now,” says songwriter Mark Irwin. “I’ve always been impressed with his songwriting and musicianship. This album just re-affirms it.” 

    Singer, songwriter and recording artist Les Kerr concurs. 

    “It’s been my pleasure to share the stage with Kevin at notable Nashville music venues such as the Bluebird Café, Douglas Corner Café and Brown’s Diner,” Kerr says. “Not only does Kevin connect with audiences through his amiable stage presence, but his songs resonate with them because they’re so real.”

    With Helluva Town, the rest of the world has an opportunity to sample them for themselves.

Kevin Ball Cover.jpeg
bottom of page