January-February 2008





By Dennis Roger Reed

 Blues fans knotom_ball_w400.jpgw Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan as Santa Barbara’s answer to Brownie and Sonny. This came natural for Ball, since he shares Sonny Terry’s birthday of October 24.

Ball and Sultan have been entertaining audiences all over the world since 1978.  They are known for their casual yet musically tight shows. They’ve recorded eight duo CDs, and have a long running residency at the Cold Spring Tavern in the Santa Barbara hills. Sultan was recently honored with a signature Martin guitar.

Though best known for the duo work, Ball has played on nearly 200 CDs, contributed to many film, television and commercial sound tracks. He’s released 3 solo guitar CDs.

Those expecting fingerstyle blues guitar on Solo Guitar – Music From Films may be disappointed, but if one is a fan of well played solo guitar in a variety of genres, then this recording will impress. Variety is the key note of the concept, with well chosen tunes not always readily memorable as being from a movie.

Ball does a great job on The Water is Wide, from the film The Bounty. How about Secret Love from Calamity Jane? Ball tackles the theme from the Long Ryders, evoking Ry Cooder but providing his own distinctive touches. Blue Bell from Finding North is a particularly inspired take. Ball closes the recording with a cool version of Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz.

This is a different sort of solo guitar recording than one might expect from a blues shouting harmonica player, but Ball is a renaissance man, branching out from his musical background with a novel published. Solo Guitar – Music From Films is a well done project that may prove an interesting sideline for Ball’s career.

Dennis Roger Reed is a singer-songwriter, musician and writer based in San Clemente, CA. He’s released two solo CDs, and appeared on two CDs with the newgrassy Andy Rau Band and two CDs with the roots rockers Blue Mama. His prose has appeared in a variety of publications such as the OC Weekly and MOJO magazine. Writing about his music has appeared in an eclectic group of publications such as Bass Player, Acoustic Musician, Dirty Linen, Blue Suede News and Sing Out! His oddest folk resume entry would be the period of several months in 2002 when he danced onstage as part of both Little Richard’s and Paul Simon’s revues. He was actually asked to do the former and condoned by the latter. He apparently knows no shame.