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Tinsley Ellis

A hard-rocking, high-voltage blues guitarist most often compared to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tinsley Ellis is hardly one of the legions of imitators that comparison might imply. Schooled in a variety of Southern musical styles, Ellis draws not only from fiery Vaughan-style blues-rock, but also Texas bluesmen like Freddie King and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the soulful blues of B.B. King, the funky grit of Memphis soul, and numerous other electric bluesmen. Ellis has been praised in many quarters for the relentless, storming intensity of his sound, and criticized in others for his relative lack of pacing and dynamic contrast (he's also been dubbed a much stronger guitarist than vocalist). Yet no matter which side of the fence one falls on, it's generally acknowledged that Ellis remains a formidable instrumentalist and a genuine student of the blues.

Ellis was born in Atlanta in 1957, and spent most of his childhood in southern Florida. He began playing guitar in elementary school, first discovering the blues through the flagship bands of the British blues boom: John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, the Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac, the Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, and so on. He soon moved on to a wide variety of original sources, becoming especially fond of B.B. King and Freddie King. After high school, Ellis moved back to Atlanta in 1975 to attend Emory University, and soon found work on the local music scene, joining a bar band called the Alley Cats (which also featured future Fabulous Thunderbird Preston Hubbard). In 1981, Ellis co-founded the Heartfixers with singer/harmonica player Chicago Bob Nelson, and they recorded an eponymous debut album for the tiny Southland imprint. They soon signed with the slightly larger Landslide and issued Live at the Moon Shadow in 1983, by which point they were one of the most popular live blues acts in the South. However, Nelson left the group shortly after the album's release, and Ellis took over lead vocal chores.

The Heartfixers' first project in their new incarnation was backing up blues shouter Nappy Brown on his well-received 1984 comeback album Tore Up. Ellis debuted his vocals on record on the Heartfixers' 1986 LP Cool on It, which brought him to the attention of Alligator Records. Ellis left the Heartfixers to sign with Alligator as a solo artist in 1988, and they picked up his solo debut Georgia Blue for distribution. The album helped make Ellis a fixture on the blues circuit, and he toured heavily behind it, establishing a hard-working pattern he would follow for most of his career. The follow-up, Fanning the Flames, appeared in 1989 and explored similar territory. Released in 1992, Trouble Time helped land Ellis on album rock radio thanks to the track "Highwayman," but it was 1994's Storm Warning that really broke Ellis to a wider blues-rock audience, earning more media attention than any of his previous recordings; additionally, guitar prodigy Jonny Lang later covered Ellis' "A Quitter Never Wins" on Lie to Me.

For 1997's Fire It Up, Ellis worked with legendary blues-rock producer Tom Dowd (the Allman Brothers, Derek & the Dominos), as well as Booker T. & the MG's bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn. Ellis subsequently left Alligator and signed with Capricorn; unfortunately, shortly after the release of 2000's Kingpin, Capricorn went bankrupt, leaving the album high and dry. Still, Ellis soon caught on with Telarc, releasing his initial disc Hell or High Water on the label in 2002, followed by The Hard Way in 2004. One year later, Ellis was back with Alligator, putting out the live set Live! Highwayman and 2007's Moment of Truth, the first studio album to contain original material since Hell or High Water. Ellis toured relentlessly behind the album, and reentered the studio in early 2009. Speak No Evil was released that October, but it would be another three and a half years before he issued another studio album, with Ellis choosing to focus on live performance for the intervening period.

When the all-instrumental Get It! did arrive in March 2013, it contained tributes to a number of his blues guitar heroes such as Freddie King, Bo Diddley, and Albert Collins. Before the end of the year he had also prepared another album with the same lineup as the Get It! sessions: Kevin McKendree on keyboards, Lynn Williams on drums, and Ted Pecchio on bass. Midnight Blue was released in January of 2014. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Tough Love

1. Seven Years

2. Midnight Ride

3. Give It Away

4. Hard Work

5. All In The Name Of Love

6. Should I Have Lied

7. Leave Me

8. The King Must Die

9. Everything

10. In From The Cold

x

Track List: Midnight Blue

1. If The River Keeps Rising

2. Mouth Turn Dry

3. Surrender

4. It's Not Funny

5. See No Harm

6. The Only Thing

7. Peace And Love

8. Harder To Find

9. That's My Story

10. Kiss Of Death

x

Track List: Get It!

1. Front Street Freeze

2. Sassy Strat

3. The Milky Way

4. Detour

5. Anthem For A Fallen Hero

6. Get It!

7. Fuzzbuster

8. Freddy's Midnight Dream

9. Berry Tossin'

10. Catalunya

x

Track List: Speak No Evil

1. Sunlight Of Love

2. Slip And Fall

3. Speak No Evil

4. It Takes What It Takes

5. The Other Side

6. The Night Is Easy

7. Left Of Your Mind

8. Cold Love, Hot Night

9. Amanda

10. Loving For Today

11. Grow A Pair

12. Rockslide

x

Track List: Moment Of Truth

1. Say Too Much

2. Somebody

3. Get To The Bottom

4. You're Gonna Thank Me

5. Tell The Truth

6. Too Much Of Everything

7. Bringin' Home The Bacon

8. Freeway Soul

9. I Take What I Want

10. Sleep On It

11. Stare At The Sun

12. Shadow Of Doubt

x

Track List: Highwayman (Live)

2. To The Devil For A Dime (Live)

3. Highwayman (Live)

4. A Quitter Never Wins (Live)

5. Real Bad Way (Live)

6. Hell Or High Water (Live)

7. The Next Miss Wrong (Live)

8. The Last Song (Live)

9. Leavin' Here (Live)

11. The Axe (Live)

x

Track List: The Hard Way

1. Still In The Game

2. Let Him Down Easy

3. Me Without You

4. I'll Get Over You

5. And It Hurts

6. La La Land

7. My Love's The Medicine

8. Fountain Of Youth

9. Love Bomb

10. Her Other Man

11. 12 Pack Poet

12. The Last Song

x

Track List: Fire It Up

1. Diggin' My Own Grave

2. Just Dropped In

3. Standing On The Edge Of Love

4. Soulful

5. Are You Sorry

6. I Walk Alone

7. Change Your Mind

8. Break My Rule

9. One Sunny Day

10. If That's How He Loves You

11. Look What You Done

12. Everyday

x

Track List: Storm Warning

1. To The Devil For A Dime

2. Cut You Loose

3. A Quitter Never Wins

4. Panhead

5. The Next Miss Wrong

6. Early In The Morning

7. When I Howl

8. Sidetracked

9. Wanted Man

10. The Sun Is Shining

11. Bush Doctor

12. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

x

Track List: Trouble Time

1. Highwayman

2. Hey Hey Baby

3. Sign Of The Blues

4. What Have I Done Wrong

5. The Big Chicken

6. The Axe

7. Come Morning

8. My Restless Heart

9. Bad Dream

10. The Hulk

11. Now I'm Gone

12. Red Dress

x

Track List: Cool On It

1. Drivin' Woman

2. Cool On It

3. Hong Kong, Mississippi

4. Second Thoughts

5. Sailor's Grave On The Prairie

6. Greenwood Chainsaw Boogie

7. Tulane

8. Time To Quit

9. Sugaree

10. Wild Weekend

x

Track List: Georgia Blue

1. Can't You Lie

2. Texas Stomp

3. You Picked A Good Time

4. I've Made Nights By Myself

5. Crime Of Passion

6. Hot Potato

7. Double Eyed Whammy

8. She Wants To Sell My Monkey

9. Look-Ka Py Py

10. As The Years Go Passing By

11. Free Man

12. Lucky Lou

x

Track List: Fanning The Flames

1. Leavin' Here

2. Pawnbroker

3. Loneliness Is Here To Stay

4. Put Me Where You Want Me

5. Born In Georgia

6. Fender Blender

7. Deaf, Dumb, Crippled And Blind

8. So Many Tears

9. Must Be The Devil

10. Dangling By A Thread

11. Mr. Night Time

Comments

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TINSLEY TAKES A BACKSEAT TO NO ONE HE IS BAD A**...
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To think I woke up this mornin, crashin da recliner(my boy Jethro must've rolled da wrong way) sideways, and seeking the Hell's Angels Forever Soundtrack, to end up here. WOW !! AWESOME !! Jethro wasn't even hurt, got da laidback recliner back "upright", balancing on da corvette tire. God bless Mr.Ellis. Thanx again Pandora !!!
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Not only are his blues always near the top of anyones list, when I saw him unloading the beat up van along with his band, I knew he was REALLY A BLUESMAN.The y had just driven from Iowa the night before to the show in Minnesota.
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Ain't that the truth a quitter never wins hahaha
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Tinsley Ellis played the bogalusa blues festival along with KebMo in late sept 2015, wow I can hear both on back door slam radio.
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What a great sound he's got soul and when you hear his music it moves you .
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This guy is bad A**
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I had never , heard this before. This is , The blues. Played with Heart , and true soul. Thank you. For Pandora.
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Tinsley Ellis the dark horse in the blues world!
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He curls my toes
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So, he can kick ur non guitar playing. But u listen to him, srvron!!!!! I mean that in a good way. I play& he kicks mine!!!!!
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he aint Stevie Ray
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I saw Ellis work live in Chicago and a month or two later in Nashville way back in the early 80's. Then in 1986 I saw Georgia Blue in a Record shop in Sacramento (I have lived in 11 states) and bought it. I managed bars at a ski resort back then, and I played lots of Roy Buchanan, Gatemouth Brown etc in my bars and Ellis was always one the customers would ask about.
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So sick!
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Butt kicking blues!
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Tinsley Ellis is one of the hardest working bluesman Alive today and is you miss a chance at a live performance you'll regret it until you do! Cold fact!
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In the vernacular, Tinsley is stankin' good
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Incredible tune!!
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Tinsley Ellis is fantastic! Whewww, man can play!
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Nothin like good blues
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Love this guy
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gdkraft
I have got to see this Cat live! WOW!
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the phrasing is Trower-esque . Likin'it.
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caught my ear immediately! Had to know who he is and where he came from. Thanks.
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Rich with emotion, No truer blues. He's made the cut....Added . . .
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dancecommand e r d r e a d
Oh this is great. Never heard of him.
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Great stuff
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Some of the deepest,most beautiful blues that I've ever had a chance to listen to. Oh my goodness!!!
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Very very nice
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He's as good as any blues guitarist out there. I love his gritty sound, stanky, funky, rough... Awesome
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Yes blues
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Great...will be looking for him..great sax,, too
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williamcaubl e
why have I never heard this before? Funny one of the comments mentions he did some Freddie King covers because I was going to say that his guitar and vocals reminded me a bit of that style
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So why don't I know about this snake charmer ...?????he's awesome !!!!!!
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just saw him live on the big island of hawaii and da guy smokes on da guitar !!!
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a true blues man
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Soo good!!!!
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He played several times at my fraternity in college(at GA Tech) with his band, The Heartfixers. He was awsome then, playing a lot of Freddie King covers, but he's even better now and seems to keep getting better!
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capron157
well worth it, good stuff.
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oh man that was sweet
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guycoincmep
not as good as srv but worth listening to
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731103081
Never heard before . <3<3<3 obviously
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billrule657
Absolutely SMOKIN!!!
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Saw him in 2010 in St. Charles,IL for an CD release jam. FANTASTIC!
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Good music 2 cook dinner2.
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tslavinl21
Oh yeah! Pure, clean and genuine!
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First Heard Tinsley Ellis in Denver Blues Club owned by Kevin , and wow that was in at least 2002 and continued to follow his career, saw him at least 5 times in Denver area and Teluride,Co and still to this day a fan, wow he just keeps it going!! I now in Charlotte,NC and waiting for him to come to DOUBLE DOOR SALOON. its been a while to see him live but lookin forward to someting in spring or summer in Charlotte, We do have some common friends in common, Anthony and Elizabeth from Atlanta area
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Digginit the mostest
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Agreed...cco n y e r s 7 6 Good stuff. Dont dare say Stevie's name in the same sentence though... PLEASE.....
Right On....
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student of the blues.... no he is the teacher.....
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