Quick. Name the 2010 Rock Blues Album of the Year. Can't do it? Try this. Take a dose of Warren Haynes jam blues. Stir in some Allman Brothers and Freddie King. Toss in blues licks as smooth as Eric Clapton and as biting as B.B King. Squeeze a dash of Stevie Ray Vaughan on top. Add a scorching blues voice, then, simmer until it burns. Sound pretty good? It should because it describes the Blues Foundation's 2010 Rock Blues Album of the Year award winner Speak No Evil by Tinsley Ellis.
I heard you say to yourself "who the H-E-double-toothpicks is Tinsley Ellis?" You would think that his continuous touring since 1988 would give him greater notoriety. It just goes to prove that some of the greatest blues rock guitar players are obscure even when they are in plain view.
Tinsley Ellis is a power blues rocker who Atlanta Magazine once declared "the most significant blues artist to emerge from Atlanta since Blind Willie McTell." Ellis picked up the guitar for the first time in 1965 at the age of 8. A chance interaction with B.B. King at one of B.B.'s concerts in 1971 so impressed Ellis that power blues rock guitar became his passion and life's work. At the performance Ellis sat in the front row hypnotized by the King's guitar work. When B.B. broke a string on Lucille, he changed it without missing a beat, and handed the broken string to Ellis. Ellis still has the string.
"Speak No Evil" is Ellis' twelfth album. All twelve are scorchers. Some would say that his album 2007 Live album Highwayman - Live is his best. That may be because live Ellis is an inspired Ellis. His shows pull something from deep in the soul. His music is laced with amazing Wah Wah pedal work and blazing sustained leads. In concert his songs carry into spirited blues jams. However, it is on Speak No Evil that Ellis finally captures the concert feeling in his songs without the jams. From the first track "Sunlight Of Love," a driving electric blues piece that had me thinking back to the music of the Buddy Miles Express, to the twelfth and final track, "Rockslide," Ellis has you moving and grooving and rocking and rolling. As soon as I completed listening to the album I started it again, and again, and again. When I was done I still could not get enough and started searching for all of Tinsley Ellis' past albums.
To truly experience Ellis it is said that he must be seen in concert. He has played in every state of the union, Canada, Europe, Australia and South America. He has also shared stages with the Allman Brothers, Robert Cray, Koko Taylor and Widespread Panic. In fact, according to his website biography, he averages over 150 fiery performances a year. He is scheduled to play Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco, CA on June 2, 2010, a concert that you won't want to miss unless you catch him June 1, 2010 at the Crystal Bay Club Casino in Crystal Bay, Nevada, or on June 3, 2010 at Boulder Station Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, or June 4, 2010 at the Doubletree Hotel in Bakersfield, CA, or June 5, 2010 at the Palms Playhouse in Winters, CA or . . . you get the idea. Tinsley Ellis - smokin' rock blues coming to a venue near you.
- Old School
Buy here: Speak No Evil