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Tinsley Ellis at Callahan's, 3 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Thursday, February 1, 2018

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Tinsley Ellis turned 60 last June -- still happy to be singing the blues.

After playing in bands such as the Alley Cats and the Heartfixers, the Georgia native released his first solo album 30 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. He’s moved between labels as well as launching his own, Heartfixer Music, has collaborated with other artists and launched a side project, Blues Is Dead, paying homage to the Grateful Dead and other acts of the late 60s San Francisco scene.

Ellis’ latest release, “Winning Hand,” came out during January, returning him to his original label home at Alligator Records...

• After previous albums that focused on instrumentals (“Get It! Midnight Blue”) and Americana (“Red Clay Soul”), Ellis says by phone that he wanted his new effort “to rock. I wanted to return to a more rockin’, guitar-driven sound. This album is all about guitar. I used a lot of different guitars on this album; In the liner notes we listed the guitarist played on each song. I had seen that done on, I think, a Duke Robillard album and I thought that was very cool. It made me want to listen to the music.”

• The songs on “Winning Hand” represent both Ellis’ present and past. “These come from over the course of around 10 years,” Ellis reports. “I write songs and keep ‘em and collect them, so when I make an album the lion’s share of the songs are written and stockpiled. The older (songs) were always good enough, it just depends on the theme of the album; They may not be right for the one I’m working on now but they may fit on something later. Some of the songs on ‘Get It!,’ the all-instrumental album, I’d been doing for 30 years on the bandstand. So these (songs on ‘Winning Hand’) fit the theme of the guitar in the driver’s seat.”

• Even though “Winning Hand” is just out, Ellis is already scheming about what to do next. “I’m always thinking about it,” he says. “I’ve got probably enough songs for three more albums. I’d like to at some point do an acoustic album, though it’s not going to sell well. With me being a rocker right now I’ll maybe save that for a later date, but that’s one of the things I’d like to do at some point down the line.”

If You Go:

• Tinsley Ellis

• 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1.

• Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills.

• Tickets are $30-$35.

• Call 248-858-9508 or visit atcallahans.com.

Web Site: www.atcallahans.com

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