Tinsley Ellis was born in Atlanta and discovered the guitar at a young age. While listening to The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream and The Rolling Stones, he soon discovered B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King.
Ellis’ first band the Alley Cats also included Preston Hubbard who later played with Roomful of Blues and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. In 1981 Ellis formed the Heartfixers along with singer and harpist Chicago Bob Nelson but it wasn’t long before he released his first solo album, 1988’s “Georgia Blue”, on Alligator Records. Ellis released six more albums before leaving Alligator only to return five years later and record three more. He has also recorded for both Capricorn and Telarc. This new album is Ellis’ 17th overall and third on his own Heartfixer Music label.
Ellis is considered one of our best blues-rock guitarists. He has shared the stage with Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Son Seals, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, and Stevie Ray Vaughan among others. In 2013 Ellis was part of the “Blues at The Crossroads 2” tour which also included James Cotton, Kim Wilson and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Ellis, guitar and vocals; harmonica and piano, has put together a fabulous band for this recording. His bands collective credits include Delbert McClinton, Shane Dwight, Brian Setzer and John Hiatt. They are Kevin McKendree, keyboards; Steve Mackey, bass; and Lynn Williams, drums.
Ellis has composed ten new songs for this project. The album opens with the mid-tempo “Seven Years”. Highlights include “Hard Work”, it’s “hard work baby, when you ain’t got none”, and the slow blues of “Should I Have Lied”. On “All in The Name of Love” Ellis adds the horn section of Nashville’s Jim Hoke, saxophone; and Steve Herman, trumpet. My favorite however is the dark “In from the Cold” that completes this fine album.
The album was recorded and mixed by McKendree and produced by Ellis. “Tough Love” should receive considerable airplay and garner additional accolades for bluesman Ellis.