This past weekend singer/songwriter Frankie Ballard played his annual Christmas shows at the State Theater in Kalamazoo, MI. For the last eight years Ballard has performed one sold out night for fans with all proceeds going to benefit the charities of his choice and this year for the first time he performed two sold-out nights. Frankie teamed up with TJ Martell for the fundraisers and the proceeds of more than $40,000 will be going to the FTL Sarcoma Fund (“For The Linds”).
The first night featured a special visit from the undefeated (and 2017 Cotton Bowl-bound) Western Michigan University football team head coach PJ Fleck. He attended the show and signed Row The Boat (the team motto) oars and custom Kalamazoo-made Heritage guitars for the silent auction. Frankie Ballard attended WMU and played baseball for the Broncos as well. Here is a photo of Ballard and Coach Fleck with the guitar/oar:
FTL (“For The Linds”) was set up for Lindsay Walleman who was a member of the promo team at Warner Nashville. Lindsay worked tirelessly on Frankie’s music and for a number of other artists including Jana Kramer, Big & Rich, Brett Eldredge, and many more. In 2013 she lost her less than three-month battle with sarcoma at the age of 28.
Frankie talks about Lindsay in a recent interview with CMT,
“She was just a magnetic person. She would walk into a room and smile, and everybody would want to talk to her. I’ve never had people like that. I didn’t know that’s what having a record deal meant either. So she was very special to me, and this was such a violent thing that happened to her. She’s diagnosed and a few months later, she’s gone.”
Ballard continues to talk about his passion for the organization,
“this was the first year we’re going to try to do two shows instead of one show. And so it was a big thing, and I thought now is the time when I can potentially write a worthwhile check to something I really care about, which is definitely Lindsay.”
Ballard performed his blend of country-blues-rock, from his latest album El Rio (Warner Bros. Records/Warner Music Nashville). El Rio was issued on vinyl this past Friday (12/16). The album has been hailed as one of years best by iTunes (Best Country Albums 2016), Rolling Stone (25 Best Country and Americana albums), Taste of Country (#9 Best Country Albums of 2016, The Tennesean (Best 16 Nashville albums of 2016), Whiskey Riff (#3 Best Country Albums of 2016) and more. Ballard performed on both The Today Show and Live with Kelly around release and will continue to tour in support through 2017.