Jesse Ballard


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“The Jesse Ballard Bandʼs performance Friday night in the Quasimodo was a night to

remember! The room was so packed it was hard to get a drink. The band delivered a

two hour plus set that this journalist can only call magical.”

BERLINER MORGANPOST  (Berlin’s largest daily)


“Long live the music! In this day and age of electronic music and

synthesized everytthing, the Jesse Ballard Band’s almost pure-acoustic show was. a

reminder of how real music can be. Virtuoso playing with emotion and humor and

Ballard’s soulful singing can not help but touch your soul. They will do one more show

in Venice ……… don’t miss it”



“The improvisational talents in this band take it to another level where the audience is

caught in the creative process as it. is happening.



” …. many artists and groups have covered Ballard’s songs, even translated them into

different languages. Without a doubt, he gains a lot from the tremendous talent of his

band, he can fall into their musical perfection, and take the audience through all styles

of improvisational passages, and lead them back into the song that they will go home

humming ….. as if this was the easiest thing in the world.”






Vocals / Guitar

Jesse Ballard’s story began in San Francisco. Born in the California coastal city in the fifties, his musical life started out hearing Ray Charles and Harry Bellafonte around the house. Later, Chubby Checker, Sam Cooke, and Frank Sinatra were his mom’s favourites and he sang along with them on the record player. A few years later Dylan and the Beatles influenced him. He started drawing his first attention in local rock bands. He moved on from there, studying music in his home town and upon graduation followed the urge of so many creative people at some point in their lives: to discover the world for themselves. Ballard traveled Europe, Asia and North Africa. In Greece he joined a traveling circus and in 1972 he ended up in the musicians’ Mecca at that time: West Berlin. He immediately got involved in the city’s music scene and shared a Kreuzberg flat with a number of singer songwriters including T.M. Fabian.  Working every night in West Berlin’s hot scene sometimes at 2 or 3 clubs in one night (there is no closing time law in Berlin), he developed his individual style. 

Between 1972 and 1977 Ballard lived and worked in London, West Berlin and the U.S.,  opening for Tim Buckley on Buckley’s last concert and formed the “Paradise Island Band” with Joe Kucera, Hans Hartmann and Tommy Goldschmidt in  West Berlin. They recorded their first album and toured Europe as opening act for J.J. Cale and on their own. Ballard toured constantly in 1978 and 1979 including tours with The Scorpions, Joe Cocker, and Robert Palmer.  Ballard gave acting a shot as well during that time and had roles in „Jetzt Und Alles“ with the band Yello and „White Star“, starring Dennis Hopper. Around this time he also worked with the band “Spliff” co-writing  lyrics for the hit album the “Spliff Radio Show.”

From 1980 until 1981 Jesse presented “Jesse Ballard’s Vocal Circus and Revue“ in Berlin’s famed venue “Quasimodo.”  The show combined theater and music and had a cast of about forty musicians and actors. The three and a half hour show was sold out  every performance. These were great years in Berlin.  After the wall came down in ’89  he left Berlin and lived in Italy and Spain before moving to the Canary Islands.  Soon he was playing all over Gran Canaria’s club scene and ended up opening a Rock ’n  Roll Club called “Swing.”  In 1996 while Ballard was on Swing’s stage a deranged Danish cowboy walked into the club and tried to shoot him with a huge “Dirty Harry” type pistol.  Jesse jumped behind a wall breaking his leg but avoided getting any holes in himself.  The madman was overpowered by the audience when his gun misfired.  Although more than 11 eye-witnesses appeared in court the shooter was acquitted and set free because he bribed the presiding trial judge. Ballard had enough of that and decided  to leave the beautiful island and move back to California.

He started touring and recording with the Paradise Island Band again and in 1998 they released “Return to Paradise“ and toured non stop through northern Europe.  There were several live albums and then in 2004 “Talking to the Rain”was recorded with Berlin producer Ramesh Weeratunga.  Ballard and Weeratunga are now a team (RamJess Productions) The next release was “Constantly In View” (it’s title track written for the Martin Theo Krieger film “Beautiful Bitch” which took the prize in the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for Best International Feature.)  Today Jesse is based again in California. He still spends a great deal of time in Berlin, the city that won’t let him go. The latest release “Cut It All Loose” was also produced by Ramesh Weeratunga and  released in Europe in December 2014, and in the U.S. in February, 2015.

Jesse Ballard is an  original singer.  The band is so organic and road tested it’s like a Mecedes Benz motor.  He does not cut out his excellent musicians or claim the center stage all the time. In his live shows and on his records he gives his highly gifted fellow musicians room to unfold, to create and to contribute their unique talents to his songs. Theirs is a sound that lives and breathes. Rock, folk and soul find a place here, as well as jazz and blues. These songs never stand still as each night they are performed differently.  They make a Jesse Ballard concert an experience that stays with you for a long time.


CD RELEASE  Dezember 2014


Manchmal funktionieren Fern-Liebesbeziehungen einfach super! Zwischen Berlin und Jesse Ballard aus Santa Barbara, Kalifornien, ist das seit vielen Jahren der Fall. So ist es nur logisch, dass auch die neue CD “CUT IT ALL LOOSE” in Berlin von seinem Freund und Kollegen, Ramesh Weeratunga, produziert wurde.

Zehn zum Teil sehr unterschiedliche Songs, detailverliebt und virtuos instrumentiert, unterstreichen Jesse Ballards Bandbreite als Sänger/Songtexter und Komponist. Der Gesang so charismatisch wie eh und je, die Stimme vielleicht sogar besser, gereifter. Die Themen vertraut und doch aktuell, poetische Skizzen von Eifersucht und Liebe, Gedanken zum Krieg, über das schräge Ganze an sich und das Absurde drum herum. Und manchmal unvermittelt eine schlichte Zeile, ganz ohne Bilder, die noch lange in den Gedanken nachhängt und hundert Bilder auslöst. Texte, die er mit den ihm eigenen, so ohrwurmverdächtigen  Melodien und Rhythmen Genre übergreifend umsetzt.

Musikalische Einflüsse aus rund 40 Jahren passen nicht unter kleine Etiketten und so kriegen wir das große Paket: Melodischen Westcoast Rock, Rhythm & Blues, tanzbaren Pop-Groove und die geliebten Soul und Jazz Elemente; hört man da einen Touch von Gospel? Plötzlich eine Walzerballade. Unsinn, alles einem Genre unterordnen zu wollen.

Damit soviel musikalische Vielfalt zu einem runden Etwas verschmelzen kann, haben eine Reihe international bekannter Musiker an der CD mitgewirkt: The „Sensational Saxophone Joe“ Kucera (sax, flute), Stephan „Hopper“ Hoppe (p) sind weit über Deutschland hinaus gefragte Insturmentalisten und langjährige Bandmitglieder der Jesse Ballard Band. Neu dabei sind Paul Hetherington (b) und Thomas Gehrke (dr), die für einen so packenden rythmischen Drive sorgen, dass man sich schon ab dem ersten Ton zum Tanzen aufgefordert fühlt. 

Aber das Geschick, immer wieder Top-Musiker aus so vielen verschiedenen Kulturen und Musikstilen zu begeistern, ist sein eigentliches Geheimnis. Musikalisch mitgewirkt an der CD haben neben den oben genannten

Ramesh Weeratunga (perc, voc, Ebow Guitars, sound design)

Tommy Goldschmidt (perc)

Any Reimer (E guitar)

Ralph Tonnius (E guitar)

Rainer Oleak (piano)

Frank Fritsch (Sax)

David “Skip” Reinhart (trumpet)

Gerald Meier (trombones

Christian Grabandt (trumpet)

Background vocals: Jocelyn B. Smith, Martha Rafferty


April 20, 2015  Ruhr Nachtrichten

Ruhrnachrichten - 22.04.2015-page-001

Sunday, May 17, 2015    Music Review

Jesse Ballard, Holding Nothing Back with Solid Hits Let Loose

Cut It All Loose – With a heart full of soul Jesse Ballard opens his heart on this release and lets you into his world. Smooth sounds that sooth the broken heart and calm mind roll from the vocal approach of Mr. Ballard. Whether it’s the driving tone on the title track or the gentle key and flute work on “Every Time I See You”, Jesse creates textures that will appeal to a variety of tastes. In a plea for peace JB sarcastically phrases “Just Another War” in an effort to show the senseless waste of human life that is never truly appreciated. Soundscapes on this record are strong in Pop, Rock and R&B. The mix is well balanced. Guitars shine like a golden sun reflecting off a clear pure shoreline. Percussion work is tight and right in the pocket. Bass guitar work brings a deft amount of groove and undertones the sour feelings, but washes away the pain. With a nod to Folk tones the opening of “Constantly In View” Jesse sings raw and from the heart wishing for and even-handed day. Cranking up the Rock n’ Roll swing JB throws down on “I Just Can’t Wait” for a long lost love and the longing to have them back in his arms. You can almost taste the sweat in the air as he hurries to the airport. Many of the tracks here would be great for a movie soundtrack for the depth of passion and imagery conveyed is poetic and thick. Rounding out the set with “Once Upon A Time” you hear a man dedicated to passing on knowledge through the notes of musical scales. One thing is for certain, and that is Jesse is a tried and true storyteller. With a life lived full of experiences Mr. B isn’t just a love song hack. He is the real deal with a real heart for music. I would highly recommend this album to those that like Rock, Blues, Folk, R&B, Pop and Americana genres. With Cut It All Loose you will definitely cut yourself in on a good time.
Music Reviews


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