“Three years is too damn long,” Tinsley Ellis told the Village at Squaw Valley’s Bluesdays crowd on July 30. Ellis broke the attendance record when he last appeared at the resort in 2010, and he had an even larger crowd this time. The southern rocker from Atlanta toured the West Coast after releasing his first all-instrumental album, “Get It!” His trio played the Crystal Bay Casino Red Room on July 29.
It was an eventful trip. The drummer had to return home when his wife went into labor. Erik “Jazzy Skins” Kaszynski on less than a day’s notice, met the band in Denver. Then after the Tahoe shows, the band’s van was burglarized while it played a gig in San Francisco.
A major highlight was the Mammoth Lake’s Bluesapaloosa festival Aug. 3. Ellis during his set brought fellow guitar great Jimmy Thackery onstage for a surprise song. Afterward, the festival headliner, J.J. Grey and Mofro, had Ellis and his new bass player Ted Pecchio step onto the stage for a couple of songs. Pecchio, Ellis said, is the “best bass player in Atlanta,” and the former Mofro member rocked the crowd with a solo. Ellis also had a solo, after which Grey got on his knees and bowed, saying, “Man, I want a guitar lesson. How do we follow that?”
It was all about goodwill, Ellis said later.
On Sunday, Ellis, who penned the hit song “Highway Man,” drove 1,000 miles to a show in Montana.
Before he set out, he placed a call to Tahoe Onstage. We asked him to explain how he can play and travel so relentlessly?
“Stubborness and greed,” he said. “And you can quote me on that.”
Ellis has already recorded another album, which will soon be mixed and shopped to record labels. The upshot is he and his band should be back on the road soon. That’s good because three years away is too damn long.