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Local couple sing together in blues, acoustic rock bands
By Josette Keelor -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- Local musicians Kevin and Lucille Ball are a little bit country, a little more rock 'n' roll, but they are blues through and through.
He has played throughout the valley with the Robbie Limon Band. She has done the Beltway tour with Northern Virginia girl band KrisTina Lucille. He played the streets of Los Angeles, opened for The Judds in Nashville and toured with country legend Big Al Downing, while she toured with blues legend John Jackson.
"My musical existence is just playing the blues," said Ball, 52. "I listen to it constantly, practice it constantly."
It's something the two have in common.
"It's very primal and it starts something in the soul that pop music doesn't, really," said Mrs. Ball, 50. "It's got the healing property that draws you in."
When she was searching for a musician to play her brother's wedding in the '90s, the two struck a chord.
"She auditioned me before her brother's wedding," he said. "And it worked out. We got hired from the wedding. We got two bookings from the wedding."
"So that was a good sign," his wife said.
Since then Ball has played with various bands around the area, subbing for musicians here and there, he said.
"I'm kind of a hired gun," he said. Tonight the will play with The Differentials at the gazebo in Front Royal for Dancin' in the Streets.
Moonlighting keeps him busy, but his focus is singing with his wife in their duo Medicine Wind and their newest project, The Kevin Ball Band.
"We both sing, we harmonize a lot," Ball said. "We've been doing this for 15 years. We were actually doing this before we were married."
Ball, a contractor at a site work company in Manassas, and his wife, a massage therapist in Berryville, are part-time musicians now, but it wasn't always this way.
A 12th generation Virginian, Ball started playing music full time after graduating from Chantilly High School in Fairfax County. The day after graduation, he headed to L.A. to pursue a career in music.
"I was gonna be a rock star," he said. After busking in California for two years -- "hangin' out on the beach all day and playin' at night" -- he headed to Nashville, then Key West and next Nags Head, N.C., commuting to Washington for gigs.
"I kept myself alive," he said.
He managed to continue as a full-time musician until he was 40, shortly after meeting his wife, when he finally decided he ought to have a more adult job.
"She and I owned an antique store too," he said, but they later had to sell the store in Sterling.
"We've always, you know, played, not necessarily full-time," he said.
Mrs. Ball also has played in bands since her teens.
"I started playing guitar when I was about 9 or 10," she said.
After touring with Jackson, she sang with KrisTina Lucille for many years.
"We were [a] very eclectic, eclectic group. Whatever we could format acoustically, we did," she said.
In 1999, Medicine Wind issued an album, "Bathed in the Light," with a five-piece band. The album features nine original songs by the band and earned 5 stars in "Jazz Magazine," Ball said.
When the couple moved to Frederick County in 2003, Medicine Wind became a duo instead.
Their standard fare is acoustic rock, '70s rock and some country, they said.
Then last year, the couple began The Kevin Ball Band.
"Our main focus now is the blues. Getting the blues out to the people," Ball said.
In The Kevin Ball Band, Ball plays guitar and does lead vocals and his wife sings and plays rhythmic guitar. Bill Conkey, of Fredericksburg, plays bass and sings; Brian Barnhart, of Browntown, plays drums.
"We mix it up. I'm in the process of writing a blues album," Ball said.
"The band is more high energy electric blues," Ball said. They play covers of artists like Robben Ford, Eric Clapton, Jeff Healey and Joe Bonamassa.
"They're contemporary blues artists," Ball said.
Many people think of the blues as being about heartache, he said, but the couple disagree.
"It's about real life," Mrs. Ball said.
"You can get close to the music," her husband agreed. "A lot of pop music is not as deep, it's not as soulful."
"If I can get even one person turned on to the blues ... I'd be happy, I really would."
For information on Medicine Wind or The Kevin Ball Band, visit the bands' website at www.kevinballband.com.