It may have all started with a beer, but Frankie Ballard plays a mean guitar.
The young country star had the ladies singing as his choir, and he also dished up some old-school rock and blues Thursday night in a warm, breezy show at TJ’s Corral.
It was the second concert in five days at Carson Valley Inn’s showcase, state-of-the-art venue. Granger Smith (aka Earl Dibbles Jr.) open CVI’s third full summer series last Saturday. The all-ages crowd had a choice of cushy seats, perimeter lawn seating or a spot in the ample pit at center stage.
Ballard, 33, did not disappoint. The Battle Creek, Michigan, native got the fans loosened up and singing along (“I gotta do something wrong so I learn what is right”) with “Young & Crazy,” one of three No. 1 hits from his 2014 album “Sunshine & Whiskey,” followed by two other party favorities, “Drinky Drink” and “Cigarette.” That eventually led to the confession, “It All Started With A Beer.”
Did we mention party? “The female species is really what makes the concert world go round… Ladies of Nevada, this next one’s for you,” he said.
“Every time I kiss you, it’s like…” And the ladies responded, “Sunshine & Whiskey.” He ordered up a shot of whiskey for that one. “It’s a little dry in the desert,” he explained.
Ballard revved up his “El Camino,” a wholesome song about and man and his best friend (a dog) taking a spin in a classic ’70s Chevy fired by 350-cc’s of horsepower, from a new album to be released next week, “El Rio.” Coincidentally, or perhaps not, that led to rockin’ covers of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” and “Heartbreak Hotel.”
“I love the King, and I always play Elvis when I’m in Nevada,” he said. Ballard and fellow guitarist Eddie Robinson sparkled with dueling riffs to close the Hotel. The six-string players had a shiny black case lined with red velvet and stacked with more than a half-dozen guitars.
“Helluva Life,” another No. 1 hit, put the choir-in-the-crowd back to work: “The bad times make the good times better,” they sang at appropriate spots in the anthem. Ballard was pleased: “You’re sounding good tonight!”
As the night drew toward the end, fans were in for a blues surprise, a brilliant medley of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips,” ZZ Top’s “La Grange” and Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” It then came time to go “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” with the band channeling Bob Dylan at his best.
If that wasn’t enough, Ballard offered to meet fans out back by the tour bus, “because I want to make some new friends in Minden.” The ladies lined up before the lights had even dimmed in TJ’s Corral.
Check out the upcoming concerts in TJ’s Corral: LINK