Tinsley Ellis was born in Atlanta, Ga. in 1957. He was raised in south Florida and discovered the guitar at a young age. One night while listening to records by The Yardbirds, The Animals, and The Rolling Stones his friend’s older brother offered to take them to see B.B. King. After the show B.B. came out and talked to them. Ellis was hooked. He just had to become a blues guitarist and Ellis soaked it up like a sponge going to see Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and any other blues artist that came through town.
Ellis returned to Atlanta in 1975. Soon afterwards he joined his first band “The Alley Cats”. That band also included Preston Hubbard who went on to play with Roomful of Blues and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. In 1981 Ellis joined harp player Chicago Bob Nelson to form “The Heartfixers”.
In 1988 Ellis signed with Alligator Records and released his debut recording 1988’s “Georgia Blue”. He recorded five more albums with Alligator before leaving. Ellis returned to Alligator five years later and released three more albums. He has also recorded for Capricorn, Telarc, and for his own Heartfixer Music label.
This is Ellis’ nineteenth album overall. The current band lineup is Ellis, guitars and vocals; long time band member Kevin McKendree, organ, and piano; Lynn Williams, drums and percussion; and Steve Mackay who joined in 2015, bass. The album is co-produced by Ellis and McKendree.
All of the songs were written by Ellis who plays them on five different guitars. The guitars are pictured on the inside page. Ellis opens with “Sound of a Broken Man” and he chooses his 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. He plays rhythm while singing before taking his solos which are sharp even icey.
Lynn Williams’ drums begin “Nothing But Fine” which might be Ellis’ best vocal. He chooses his 1967 Gibson ES-345 for this tune and for two more. It’s his choice again on “Dixie Lullaby” and on “Gamblin’ Man” featuring McKendree on both keyboards.
Ellis’ other favorite guitar is his 1959 Fender Stratocaster and it’s also his choice for three songs. “I Got Mine”, “Autumn Run” and the fabulous “Kiss This World” again featuring McKendree.
The third times the charm as Ellis is the most passionate he’s ever been.
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