Blues-rock guitar wizard, vocalist and songwriter Tinsley Ellis will celebrate the release of his new CD, "Winning Hand," with a live performance on Sunday, Jan. 28, at Iron Works, 49 Illinois St., Buffalo. Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets are on sale now. For more information, visit www.buffaloironworks.com
Since his Alligator debut 30 years ago, Ellis has become a bonafide worldwide guitar hero. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "It's hard to overstate the raw power of his music." Armed with his signature molten licks, melodic riffs and rousing, intense solos, Ellis, as his legions of fans will attest, is among the blues world's hardest-working and most well-traveled statesmen.
Recorded in Nashville and produced by Ellis and keyboardist Kevin McKendree, the 10 fervently sung tracks on "Winning Hand" include nine originals, ranging from blues to rock to soulful ballads.
"Guitar, guitar, guitar is what this album is all about," said Ellis, who recorded primarily with his 1959 Fender Stratocaster, his 1967 Gibson ES 345 and his 1973 Les Paul Deluxe.
Ellis has performed in all 50 U.S. as well as in Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia and South America, earning legions of fans with his guitar virtuosity, passionate vocals and memorable original songs. Ellis is also revered as a guitarist's guitarist, with famous friends including Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Oliver Wood, Jonny Lang and members of Widespread Panic calling on him to sit in and jam. "A musician never got famous staying home," Ellis said.
Born in Atlanta in 1957, Ellis was raised in southern Florida. He found the blues through the back door of British Invasion bands such as The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream, The Rolling Stones and Southern rockers The Allman Brothers. As he discovered the roots of these bands, he attended shows by B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and every other blues artist who came through town.
Already an accomplished teenaged musician, Ellis returned to Atlanta and started playing with local bands. 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. After cutting three Heartfixers albums for the Landslide label, Ellis was ready to head out on his own.
"Georgia Blue," Tinsley's first Alligator release, hit the public by surprise in 1988. Tinsley's next four releases - 1989's "Fanning The Flames," 1992's "Trouble Time," 1994's "Storm Warning" and 1997's "Fire It Up" - further grew his fan base and his fame. Features and reviews ran in Rolling Stone, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe.
Ellis released an album on Capricorn Records in 2000 and on Telarc in 2002. He returned to Alligator in 2005, releasing "Live - Highwayman," which captured the fifth-gear energy of his live shows. He followed it with two more studio releases, 2007's "Moment Of Truth" and 2009's "Speak No Evil." He has since self-released four successful albums on his own Heartfixer label.