ROCK/BLUES GUITARIST/VOCALIST TINSLEY ELLIS TO PERFORM LIVE IN BETHLEHEM!
Feral blues guitar...non-stop gigging has sharpened his six-string to a razor's edge...his eloquence dazzles... he achieves pyrotechnics that rival Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton."
- Rolling Stone
Hard-rocking blues-soaked guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Tinsley Ellis will celebrate his return to Alligator Records with his first-ever live CD, Live-Highwayman, and a performance in Bethlehem. The CD is an Ellis fan's dream-come-true, because as great as he is in the studio, it's the stage where Ellis really fires it up. Performance information is as follows:
Tuesday, August 8th: Bethlehem Musikfest
Americaplatz Stage Bethlehem, PA
8:30 p.m. Ticket Price: Check website for details
Ellis' live shows feature extended fretwork filled with melodic and rhythmic experimentation, in the spirit of jam bands like his friends Widespread Panic and The Allman Brothers. Atlanta Magazine declared Ellis the most significant blues artist to emerge from Atlanta since Blind Willie McTell." Since first hitting the national scene with his Alligator Records debut, Georgia Blue, in 1988, Ellis has toured non-stop and continued to release one critically acclaimed album after another. His stellar guitar work, always a staple of his live shows and CDs, is matched by his strong songwriting and powerful, soulful vocals. Tinsley's hometown paper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, calls his music a potent, amazing trip through electric blues-rock."
Ellis made five critically acclaimed albums for Alligator between 1988 and 1997 before recording for the Capricorn and Telarc labels. Live-Highwayman is overflowing with over 77 minutes of music, making this the longest single release in Alligator's catalog. Ellis recorded two nights of performances at Chord On Blues in St. Charles, IL, a suburb of Chicago, on March 25 and 26, 2005. At the recording, he burned hotter than ever, taking his band and his audience to spine-chilling heights. Ellis' original songs, extended soloing and heartfelt singing brought his audience to its feet early and kept them shouting and dancing all night long.
Born in Atlanta in 1957, Ellis grew up in southern Florida and first played guitar at age eight. He found the blues through the backdoor of the British Invasion bands like The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream, and The Rolling Stones. He especially loved the Kings - Freddie, B.B. and Albert - and spent hours immersing himself in their music. His love for the blues solidified when he was 14. At a B.B. King performance, Tinsley sat mesmerized in the front row. When B.B. broke a string on Lucille, he changed it without missing a beat, and handed the broken string to Ellis. After the show, B.B. came out and talked with fans, further impressing Tinsley with his warmth and down-to-earth attitude. By now Tinsley's fate was sealed; he had to become a blues guitarist. And yes, he still has that string.
Already an accomplished teenaged musician, Ellis left Florida and returned to Atlanta in 1975. He soon joined the Alley Cats, a gritty blues band that included Preston Hubbard (of Fabulous Thunderbirds fame). In 1981, along with veteran blues singer and harpist Chicago Bob Nelson, Tinsley formed The Heartfixers, a group that would become Atlanta's top-drawing blues band. Upon hearing the band's second release, Live At The Moonshadow (Landslide), The Washington Post declared, Tinsley Ellis is a legitimate guitar hero." After cutting two more Heartfixers albums for Landslide, Cool On It (featuring Tinsley's vocal debut) and Tore Up (with vocals by blues shouter Nappy Brown), Ellis was ready to head out on his own. Ellis sent a copy of the master tape for his solo debut to Bruce Iglauer at Alligator Records. I had heard Cool On It," recalls Iglauer, and I was amazed. I hadn't heard Tinsley before, but he played like the guys with huge international reputations. It wasn't just his raw power; it was his taste and maturity that got to me. It had the power of rock but felt like the blues. I knew I wanted to hear more of this guy."
Georgia Blue, Tinsley's first Alligator release, hit an unprepared public by surprise in 1988. Critics and fans quickly agreed that a new and original guitar hero had emerged. Before long, Alligator arranged to reissue Cool on It and Tore Up, thus exposing Tinsley's blistering earlier music to a growing fan base. Tinsley's next releases, 1989's Fanning the Flames, 1992's Trouble Time, 1994's Storm Warning and 1997's Fire It Up (produced by the legendary Tom Dowd), solidified Ellis' reputation as a guitar hero with depth and substance. The Associated Press described Ellis' music as, A solid heaping of blues...a mixture of well-written originals and covers all held together with scorching guitar and a big voice to carry his sharply written lyrics."
A move to Capricorn Records in 2000 saw Ellis revisiting his Southern roots with Kingpin. Unfortunately, the label folded soon after the CD's release. In 2002, he joined the Telarc label, producing two well-received albums of soul-drenched blues-rock, Hell Or High Water and The Hard Way. All the while, Ellis never stopped touring. A musician never got famous staying home," he's quick to note.
Ellis has played in all 50 states, as well as Canada, Europe, Australia and South America. Whether he's out with his own band or sharing stages with The Allman Brothers, Robert Cray, Koko Taylor or Widespread Panic, he averages over 150 performances a year, bringing his fast-moving, high-energy, guitar-drenched performances to fans all over the world. Live, there's simply no one better at igniting a crowd, jamming with focus and purpose. Live-Highwayman captures Tinsley Ellis' ferocious live power for the very first time.