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Matthew Ball, YouTube’s ‘Boogie Woogie Kid,’ performing at Wallace High School

October 11, 2018

“Boogie Woogie Kid” and viral YouTube pianist Matthew Ball is coming to perform at Wallace High School in the Silver Valley this weekend .

The attorney-turned-musician began his journey into piano at a young age when his mother got him to start taking lessons.

Ball remained involved with classical and jazz piano through college. Through his university teacher Flavio Varani and a series of student/teacher relationships, Ball’s musical education pedigree actually goes back directly to the Polish romantic era pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin. It seemed Ball was headed straight for a career in music.

“I was being pragmatic,” Ball said. As graduation approached, he feared the worst for his working prospects. “I thought I should maybe double down and have a practical vocational education and went to law school.”

But after spending about five years between clerking and getting licensed, the idea of spending the next two decades in a similar way started to sour. So, he took a hard turn back into the world of jazz piano and reclaimed his old passion. His videos on YouTube have racked up nearly 2 million views.

“I think putting practicality over passion for me was a mistake because I was very unhappy practicing law. It soon revealed itself to me over the course of time that what you’re passionate about eventually gives you an expertise and you can turn that expertise into a lifestyle and a living in the long run.”

And that’s exactly what his passion for boogie woogie and blues piano has done. He doesn’t play Chopin anymore.

“I couldn’t live the lifestyle I lead playing just classical music,” Ball said. “One of the wonderful things about boogie woogie is that it has such a broad demographic appeal … it’s such a rhythm filled way of playing the piano.”

Boogie woogie goes by several names of varied accuracy but all give some idea of its style: barrelhouse piano, ragtime, swing piano, jump blues. They all fall under “the rhythm-filled sound that Americans invented and pioneered all around the turn of the 20th century,” Ball said.

Sunday at Wallace High School, Ball will be performing a setlist of New Orleans piano, swing-era piano and other song favorites from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. Ball will also be joined by a student dance group in a rendition of Glenn Miller’s 1940 hit “In the Mood.”

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