It seems a career that goes from the courtroom to tickling the ivories is a stretch. But for Matthew Ball, his music career just brought him back where he started.
Known as the Boogie Woogie Kid, Ball will take the stage at the Sandwich Opera House at 8 p.m. Saturday. Ticket are available by phone at 815-786-2555 or at the Opera House box office.
With bachelor’s degrees in music and history, Ball said he decided to go to law school.
“I tried to get some work doing the music thing, but in hindsight, I didn’t have a lot of good guidance,” Ball said in a recent phone interview from his Michigan home.
He figured he could earn a good living in the practice of law, but never really felt he fit in with his colleagues. “I tried to find a niche, but it just wasn’t for me. The hours were grueling and the pay just wasn’t there. And it’s hard to have a social life when you’re working 60 hours a week.”
About the same time he arrived at the conclusion that he was not cut out to be a lawyer, he attended a boogie woogie festival in 2001. He said he was so awestruck by the performances, that he decided to try again to make a living as a professional musician.
“My training had been classical through college. When I got ahold of boogie woogie, it just grabbed me,” Ball said.
“It’s jazz music that’s not just relegated to the lounge or jazz club.” He said it’s a special niche in the field of music. There’s no written music; one just has to learn by ear.
“I felt like I was starting over from scratch. Sure, there is some science to it, but you really have to feel it,” he said.
At the Opera House, he’ll play classic boogie woogie and tunes he wrote such as “Razzle Dazzle,” “I Try and Try,” “Tip Tap Toodle,” “Jus Blu,” “Cow Cow Abunga” and “Canadian Train.”
Today, not only does Ball perform, he teaches, not just one-on-one, but groups via Skype. That combination affords him the opportunity to be a stay-at-home dad with his 16-month-old child. Author of two books on piano blues and boogie woogie, he has maintained a successful teaching studio for more than 18 years. Matthew offers instruction in varied disciplines including early jazz, classical, pop, theory and arrangement.
“Music has always been part of my life, but this has worked out really well. I’m able to balance a career, leisure time and family life.”
If you go
What: Matthew Ball, the Boogie Woogie Kid
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sandwich Opera House, 140 E. Railroad St., Sandwich
Cost: $25, $20 for seniors 65 and older, and $15 for students
Tickets: 815-786-2555. Box office will open at 7 p.m. the night of the performance.
Web site: www.boogiewoogiekid.com