Voice of Otis Ball returns to DeKalb on debut album

By Emmett Overbey

Anyone relatively new to the DeKalb area may not have heard of Otis Ball. Once upon a time, several years ago, DeKalb’s favorite son delighted local residents through a variety of musical incarnations.

There was Art Deco. There were the Slut Kings. There was Otis Ball and the Chains. And, of course, there were numerous solo engagements for Otis.

Campus concerts at the Wesley Foundation and the MLK Commons were frequent. Suddenly, Otis “split for the big time.” Finally, after a couple of years in New York, Otis presented his debut album, “I’m Gonna Love You ‘Til I Don’t” on Bar None/Restless records.

If you’ve seen Otis before, you know what he’s like. If not, you have a lot to look forward to. Along with several O. Ball rarities, the album contains most of Otis’ DeKalb staples: “Hey Buddha,” “Artists in Day Jobs,” “Hooray for Flowers,” “Amy,” “Go Barbara Go,” and of course, “Walk on Water” and “Charles Manson’s Birthday.” It’s all good rock-and-roll with a touch of Otis’ tongue-in-cheek personality.

If there was ever a record for DeKalb, this would be it. The liner notes give mention to most of the notorious local crowd, and our very own Mark Farnham leads The BoneHead Horns on “Under a Rock.”

As for the music itself, it’s kind of hard to describe. Otis’ pals, They Might Be Giants, discovered Otis and lent many a hand on the record. There’s a bit of their influence in the music, but for the most part, it’s all unique Otis stuff.

If you like the kind of light-hearted music that TMBG puts out, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything objectionable here. It’s not dance-club, it’s not metal, it’s not rap. It’s just Otis.

Sorry if that sounds evasive, but trust me, that’s the best way to describe it.

You owe it to your community and to yourself to buy this album. Think about it: Otis is only the second major celebrity to come out of DeKalb. That makes him the Cindy Crawford of the music industry.