Marcia Ball

Austin's queen of the R&B keyboards Marcia Ball, Texas State Musician for 2018, returns to McLennan Community College's Bosque River Stage for an 8 p.m. Thursday show.

Mary Keating Bruton

Waco gets one more state artist Thursday night when Austin Marcia Ball brings her foot-swinging rhythm-and-blues at McLennan Community College's Bosque River Stage.

Ball was named by the Texas Legislature as State Musician for 2018, part of a class that included Texas country legend George Strait as State Musician for 2017 and Waco painter Kermit Oliver as Texas State Two-Dimensional Artist.

The honor is largely a ceremonial one, Ball observed in a recent phone interview, but an honor nonetheless. "This is a big state full of great musicians. I'm honored and excited to be this for a term," she said.

The recognition joins a shelf filled with awards and honors that Ball has accumulated over a four-decade career, including four Grammy Award nominations, eight Blues Music Awards and membership in the Austin Music Hall of Fame.

Born in Orange, but raised in Louisiana, Ball started her career in Austin in 1970 with a band called Freda and the Firedogs, then went solo four years later. She's known for a rollicking piano and a musical gumbo that blends Texas Roadhouse with blues, boogie-woogie  and a hefty dash of fun.

It's infectious and Bosque River Stage audiences Thursday night can expect a healthy serving. Backing up Ball, 68, will be a tight band of guitarist Mike Schermer, bassist Don Bennett, saxophonist Eric Bernhardt and drummer Corey Keller.

"We'll be playing a mixed bag of old and new, and quite a bit of uptempo songs," she explained. "We'll have songs with messages and happy dance songs, too."

Ball's last album was 2014's "The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man" and work is underway on the next one. Ahead is a "good and busy" and that's just fine with Ball.

"It's good, steady work," she said. "I'm having fun."

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor