BLACKFOOT — The singer from Idaho has a slight accent – something he picked up while touring coffee shops and bars in New Zealand.
Dressed in shorts and flip flops, he and three members of his band pull music equipment out of a van at Idaho State University. They rush to set a small stage in the middle of campus for a sound check.
The show will be the first of three within a week for singer, Aaron Ball, who now mostly plays music throughout the northwest.
Ball plans to cram a year’s worth of performances into a summer — the 36-year-old teaches automotive classes at Blackfoot High School.
“Teaching is a great job for people in bands,” Ball said. “What other job gives you the whole summer to play music?”
Ball’s always had an interest in music. In junior high, his parents bought him a drum set, which introduced him to a “whole new world” of ways to express himself.
He then picked up a guitar and started arranging his own poetry into melodies. By the time he was in high school, he was performing at events throughout his hometown of Pocatello.
After graduating high school, he toured with a rock ensemble called Somewhere In The Middle. The band’s first EP was produced by Better than Ezra bassist Tom Drummond, whose 1995 hit “Good” topped the billboard modern rock tracks chart.
Ball left Somewhere In The Middle in 2011. His current group, The Aaron Ball Band, has since headlined shows throughout the northwest and countries overseas, including Australia and New Zealand. The group has also shared stages with major acts, such as Sublime and Great White.
Ball’s song “Second Gear” received radio play throughout the United States in 2011. It also topped charts on the worldwide social media site for musicians: ReverbNation.
Ball returned to the United States in 2012 after a three-year musical stint in New Zealand, where he amassed his largest following. He started teaching at Blackfoot High School in 2013.
“Most working musicians need a day job,” he said. “Money is hard to come by for most in the music industry.”
He still performs during the school year. The hardest part about balancing careers in education and music, he said, is keeping students from finding out about what he does on the weekends. Having to explain that you play in a rock band can be a “little distracting” for kids.
“They occasionally catch wind of what I do,” he said. “I guess it’s just part of the territory.”
One of those students, Noemi Quintero, is a junior who attended Ball’s advisory class. After seeing her teacher perform on the web, she asked if he would accompany her at the school talent show.
The two performed James Bay’s “Let It Go” at the competition. Ball played guitar and sang harmonies during Quintero’s performance. She took first place.
“People really liked us,” Quintero said. “I just thought it was so nice of him to help me out with something like that. He’s like this famous person and was totally willing to help me.”
Fellow teacher Andrew Hansen praised Ball’s musical ability – and his willingness to help a student out.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Hansen. “Anything to connect with a student is a good thing.”
Ball said his willingness to help Quintero was the natural result of a love for music.
“There’s nothing better than to create something, and then share it with people and see how it can touch their lives,” he said.