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Surrender



Tracklisting / Composer
1) Infinite Blue - Jody Benjamin
2) Surrender - Jody Benjamin
3) Lost Cowboy - Jody Benjamin
4) Business - Jody Benjamin
5) Daydreamin' - Michael Ball
6) Johnny - Jody Benjamin
7) Sister Why - Jody Benjamin
8) I'm All Alone - Jody Benjamin
9) Guilty As Sin - Jody Benjamin
10) Festival Farewell - Michael Ball

Tracks from Surrender


 

Louisiana Love Bug




Tracklisting / Composer
1) Yessirree - Micheal Ball
2) A Girl Like Me - Roger Miller
3) He's Already Gone - Jody Benjamin
4) Drivin' With Her Head - Micheal Ball
5) Think It Over - Huey Meaux
6) Open Pit Mine - D.T. Gentry
7) Whirleybird - Jody Benjamin
8) Winding River - Stephen Barry
9) Queen Of Pain - Jody Benjamin
10) Love Bug - Wayne Kemp
11) Moanin' - Hank Snow
12) Jody's Jump - Micheal Ball
13) Waltz In Blue - Robert David

Tracks from Louisiana Love Bug

March 1st, 2010


Cajun-inspired music dominates much of Louisiana Love Bug, the latest album by Ottawa’sBall & Chain – Michael Ball and Jody Benjamin – a duo well known for their excellent take on traditional country music.

In fact, the album was recorded in Louisiana and features back-up from several musicians well-known in Cajun and Zydeco music circles including Dirk Powell of Balfa Toujours who variously plays guitar, bass, piano and accordion; Zydeco accordionist Corey Ledet; pedal steel player Richard Comeaux; and guitarist Mark Trichka. Michael plays fiddle, mandolin, bass and viola, while Jody’s on guitar and triangle.

Either Michael or Jody wrote six of the album’s 13 songs and several including Michael’s kick-off tune “Yessirree,” a high octane rhythmic workout driven by Ledet’s accordion, and Jody’s “Whirlybird,” which starts out in waltz-time and then kicks into high gear, are firmly in Cajun mode. Jody’s “He’s Already Gone,” sounds like a classic country song from decades ago.

Speaking of classic country, they also do fine versions of Roger Miller’s “A Girl Like Me,”Wayne Kemp’s “Love Bug,” and “Open Pit Mine,” an almost folk-like song recorded in 1962 by George Jones.

The album was produced by Dirk Powell, a great musician who’s been in several folk festival workshops I’ve hosted over the years. When Linda Ronstadt was a guest on Folk Roots/Folk Branches in 2006, she was raving about Dirk who had just played on Adieu False Heart, the Zozo Sisters album she’d made with Ann Savoy.

-Mike Regenstreif
 

Live At The Bayou

Ball and Chain have done it again but this time with the seven piece band! Recorded over two snappin' cold nights in late January, 'Live at the Bayou' has 18 tracks of our favorite Country songs. Yes! There are some Hank Williams tunes, a little Marty Robbins and even a few new originals.



Tracklisting - Composer
1) Devil Woman - Marty Robbins
2) Crazy Arms - R.Mooney/C.Seals
3) Graveyard Shift - Steve Earle
4) Mamou Two Step - Public Domain
5) Nothin' Can Stop Me - Roger Miller/George Jones
6) Big City - Melwood Cutlery
7) I Love the Life - Jody Benjamin
8) Lovers Waltz - Jay Unger/Molly Mason
9) Lovesick Blues - Hank Williams
10) Port Arthur Blues - Public Domain
11) Fool about You - Hank Williams
12) Your Love By Heart - Jody Benjamin
13) Redemption Ground - Michael Ball
14) Little Head - John Hiatt
15) I Don't Drink in 3/4 Time - Jody Benjamin
16) I Can't Go Home Like This - N.Boles/R.Wallace
17) Love Love Love - Ted Jarret
18) Little Darlin' - Julie Miller



Country Music News (countrymusicnews.ca)  

LIVE AT THE BAYOU - CD Review 
- January 2006

Ball And Chain are an Ottawa-based duo comprised of Michael Ball and Jody Benjamin. This marks their third album, and this time around weget their whole entourage of The Wreckers, in an hour-plus "live" show recorded at The Bayou Blues & Jazz Club in Ottawa. It's hard to tell who is having the most fun. Ball and Chain & the Wreckers, the audience who participated in the two-night recording, or the listener who now gets a chance to hear the results. 

Ball and Chain are diehard country traditionalists, who add their personal touches vocally and musically to some of the classic songs presented here; augmenting that reverence with some original compositions that fit snugly with the authentic material. Songs made famous by Roger Miller, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, George Jones, Ray Price, Webb Pierce are featured throughout this "concert", and the listener comes away with a "Ryman feeling". 

Jody Benjamin is featured as the lead vocalist and she pays proper homage to the traditional values of this material, something that most of today's country divas have failed to recognize or capture. Jody Benjamin also contributes three original tunes to the mix, with the hurtin' songs Your Love By Heart and I Don't Drink In 3/4 Time, coming off as standouts on the album. 

Michael Ball's fiddle work is also a highlight here, featured front and center on instrumental offerings like the Cajun tune Mamou Two Step and his own composition,Redemption Ground. 

So as not to scare-off anyone who may not be totally into the "real tuff", Ball & Chain also include versions here of tunes written and/or popularized by such contemporaries as Steve Earle, Buddy Miller and John Hiatt, and Canada's own Melwood Cutlery. 

- Larry Delaney

Sample Tracks Live At The Bayou

 

Trouble All The Time

We had a great time recording this CD right at home! It took 5 days between January 6th and 13th with Ross set up in the TV room and Michael and I in the microphone forest that was our living room. Michael made sure we had lots of good comfort food so we sang with our house filled with the aroma of stew, roast, and pie.



Tracklisting - Composer
1) You're Gonna Change or I'm Gonna Leave - Hank Williams
2) Trouble - Traditional
3) Golden Earrings - Jody Benjamin
4) Wondering - Jay Werner
5) Jongle à Moi - J.B. Fuselier (public domain)
6) The Memory of Your Smile - Ruby Rokes (Carter Stanley)
7) The Devil is an Angel - Julie Miller
8) You Win Again - Hank Williams
9) Freight Train Blues - John Lair
10) Valse de bayou têche - public domain
11) Jackson - Jerry Lieber and Billy Edd-Wheeler
12) I Just Don't Like this Kind of Livin' - Hank Williams
13) Don't Do it Darling - Webb Pierce
14) Infinite Blue - Jody Benjamin
15) Happy One Step/Danse careé - Denis McGee (public domain)

Sample Tracks Trouble All The Time

Country Jukebox (www.countryjukebox.de)

TROUBLE ALL THE TIME - CD Review
- January 2004

What Jody Benjamin and Michael Ball do on their album titled Trouble All The Time is genuine hardcore traditional Country Music that just doesn't get any better. This duo from Ottawa, which has been around for some time now, goes by the name Ball And Chain and has in its bag nothing less than traditional country music with regular sorties into Bluegrass, Old Time and Cajun creating variety. The two are particularly taken with the songs of Hank Williams and Webb Pierce, the latter also being Jody's personal favourite, as you can read in the liner notes of this album that is peppered with lots of splashes of colour and little surprises. With You Win Again, You're Gonna Change (or I'm Gonna Leave) and I Just Don't Like This Kind of Livin' they have at once covered three Williams classics. Using the simplest instruments and just the right amount of vocal twang, Jody and Michael bewitch the listener and transport him to a time long past. Jody's voice is so genuine and pure it would conjure up an approving smile on the face of Hank himself. We bet it would be no different for Webb Pierce if he could hear the two Ball and Chain remakes of his hits Don't Do It Darlin' and Wondering. Without a doubt, the cover of the Stanley Brothers' The Memory of Your Smile and the new recording of Johnny Cash and June Carter's jewel Jackson are among the other highlights of an album that is guaranteed to offer more enjoyable moments than most major productions whose budgets have gobbled up a sum many times larger than that available to Ball and Chain.


Country Music News (countrymusicnews.ca)

June 2003

Sessions recorded in someone's living room usually trigger warning bells to stay clear of but this is one dynamite exception to that rule.

Ball And Chain is an Ottawa-based duo featuring the talents of Michael Ball and Jody Benjamin, and they create all kinds of magic with this homespun album; thanks largely to Jody Benjamin's interpretations of hardcore traditional country music. She can sing a Hank Williams or a Webb Pierce song like few female voices before her have been able to capture. It's gutsy stuff, with all kinds of hurtin' heartbreak in the vocal delivery.

The barebones, living room recording actually comes off sounding as if Hank's Drifting Cowboys Band were in the room...but it's really Michael Ball kicking in his acoustic bass and scorching fiddle and Benjamin twangin' away on her six-string.

The couple are supported musically by gifted steel player Danny Artuso (remembered for his early-80's days with Diane Gentes & The Drugstore Cowboys), and Jordan Officer on guitar and fiddle tracks.

Jody Benjamin is no stranger to the traditional side of country. The Saskatchewan-bred singer has been a staple on the Ottawa music scene as a member of the k.d.lang influenced Toasted Westerns duo. Michael Ball is a gifted fiddle player with leanings towards the Cajun side of things (he's part of Keith (Prairie Oyster) Glass' sidebar bands The Twisters and Main Squeeze. As "Ball And Chain" the pair debuted on their Bare Bones CD released in 2001.

This new album is something else!! Benjamin is obviously hooked on Hank and Webb. She covers three of Williams' classic tunes, You Win Again; You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave) and I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Livin; and delivers each with a vocal twang that would surely put a smile on Hank Williams' face if he could hear the effort (maybe he is listening - he's been known to haunt a few living rooms). She is equally adept with the Webb Pierce material, and admits (in the album's liner notes) that he is her favorite. No kidding...just have a listen to her version of Wonderin'; and the wonderful cover of Don't Do It Darling, the 1957 hit by Webb Pierce, which had the distinction of being his own 'cover' of the same song recorded five years earlier under the different title of That Heart Belongs To Me.

Michael Ball shows a lot of spunk here too, and his vocal work, usually in a back-up role, is quite effective. One of the better duets is a lively interpretation of the Johnny Cash & June Carter nugget, Jackson. A version of the Stanley Brothers bluegrass haunt, The Memory of Your Smile comes off as another highlight of the package. Jody Benjamin also shows a neat touch with her own songwriting, contributing handsome efforts in Golden Earrings and Infinite Blue.

So...don't worry 'bout that 'living room' studio. Trouble All The Time has more enjoyable moments in it than most of today's big budget bells and whistles productions.

- Larry Delaney

 

Bare Bones

Bare Bones by Ball and Chain was recorded over two snowy days in January 2001. Bare Bones is an album for any one who has ever loved the soulful sounds of old time country music, bluegrass or folk. Filled with classic songs written by classic artists, and works by Jody (guitar, vocals) and Michael (fiddle, vocals), simplicity is another word for perfection on this album.




Tracklisting - Composer
1) Baby We're Really In Love - Hank Williams
2) Mississippi Valley Blues - Gene Autry
3) Last Cowboy - Jody Benjamin
4) If Crying Would Make You Care - Franks/Walker
5) Take Me Back - Julie Miller
6) Crow Black Chicken - Public Domain, arrg. by Ball & Chain
7) Devil Woman - Marty Robbins
8) Can't Stop Lovin' You - Roger Miller
9) Blue Must be the Colour of the Blues - George Jones/L.Williams
10) Seein' Double C&W - Fisher/Fines
11) Hey Hey Hey - C.Stanley/R.Stanley
12) Please Tell Me Now - A.Clawson/T.Pope
13) Wayne Perry Waltz - Public Domain arrg. by Ball & Chain
14) My Baby's Gone - C.Louvin/I.Louvin
15) Drivin' Nails in My Coffin - F.Tillman
16) Loon on the Lake - Melwood Cutlery
17) Daydreamin' - Michael Ball

Sample Tracks Bare Bones

The Ottawa Citizen
May 26, 2001

Who would have thunk it? Old cowboy songs aren't dead; in fact, they're being recorded right here in Ottawa.

Local couple Jody Benjamin (Bovine Sisters, Zydeco Loco, and one half of the Toasted Westerns) and Michael Ball (Rockabayou, Zydeco Loco, Lonesome Paul and the Valley Ramblers) have teamed up to produce an album remarkable for it's simplicity and heart.

The aptly named Bare Bones consists solely of Benjamin's guitar, Ball's fiddle, and the vocal chords of both. The 17 tracks are almost all covers, ranging from Hank Williams, Julie Miller, and George Jones to Marty Robbins, Gene Autry, and Webb Pierce. Ball and Benjamin each provide an original, including the latter's wistful, yodel-laden lament, "Last Cowboy", a tribute to Alby Cole, the last cowboy in Parkbeg, Sask.

With Bare Bones, Ball and Benjamin have perfectly recreated that front-porch feel; a jam session on a warm summers eve, where no one has to go home anytime soon and all the listener has to do is close his eyes and hum along.

- Bruce Deachman

OTTAWA SCENE Ottawa X-Press
May 24, 2001

Bare Bones, a western music fan's wet dream. Ball and Chain remains squarely in the realm of old-timey country music. The fact that Bare Bones was recorded straight off the floor, with no overdubs, lends an even more authentic feel to the music.

- S. Flood

Regina Leader Post
October 27, 2001

Ball and Chain drag out some ghosts of country music While heavy metal and glam rock have long since staked their claim as the sountrack to Halloween with wild costumes and fog machines, when it comes to truly haunting music, it doesn't get much more chilling than the high lonesome yodeling of old time country music...no other genre comes close to country's ability to send shivers down listener's spines.

The Ottawa-based duo Ball and Chain seem to understand this implicitly... ...The song "Last Cowboy" is written about a real guy named Alby Cole who lives on a farm outside of Parkbeg....Although Alby himself may be elusive, fans of old-time music and the characters both real and ethereal that populate its storied past will find his legend sung full and strong whenever Ball and Chain takes the stage.

- Emmet Matheson