Blues rock artist Tinsley Ellis to play at Ghost Ranch Saloon | SteamboatToday.com

Blues rock artist Tinsley Ellis to play at Ghost Ranch Saloon

Nicole Inglis

Tinsley Ellis will play Thursday at Ghost Ranch Saloon. The blues-rocking guitarist/vocalist is performing to support his new album, "Speak No Evil."

— After 30 years on the road, Tinsley Ellis knows his Southern-tinged blues music speaks to everyone in different ways.

"The songs tell stories," he said. "People who like the stories of life experiences and stuff like that might listen to the lyrics. Some people might be into the beat of it and just want to dance. But if they don't want to have a concert experience, you can make more of a party out of it. That's my goal, to have fun."

As a part of his 18-show West Coast tour, Ellis will travel to Steamboat Springs on Thursday to take the stage at the Ghost Ranch Saloon. The show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5.

Ellis will be promoting his 12th album, "Speak No Evil," released at the end of 2009.

David Arthur, booking agent for the Ghost Ranch Saloon, said he brought Ellis to the venue because of what he's heard from Steamboat Springs residents about their music preferences.

"We're happy to have Tinsley coming through, and we were hoping to have a good show with him," he said. "I hired him because I hoped the people of Steamboat would love it."

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Ellis said he and his band, comprising The Evil One on bass and Jeff Burch on percussion, hope the driving blues-rock appeals to everyone, moving fans to feel what Ellis felt at a young age.

At his shows, Ellis said he sees fans of his studio albums, who request songs from every CD he's released, as well as guitar aficionados, pulled in by screaming guitar solos and technical riffs.

Born in 1957 in Atlanta, Ellis began playing guitar at 8 years old, gravitating toward the music of his time, such as Credence Clearwater Revival and the Beatles.

But when the British Invasion artists filtered into his childhood home in south Florida, he began to dig deeper.

Through bands such as The Rolling Stones, Cream and The Animals, Ellis found that rock music was strongly rooted in the blues movement.

"The emotion of the music really spoke to me," he said, "and just the rawness of it."

He started going to B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf shows in his teens and realized his path as a musician would follow in their wake.

Throughout his career as a songwriter, guitarist and vocalist, he found himself sharing the stage with the Allman Brothers, Otis Rush and Buddy Guy. He also saw the international music landscape change, watching as the significance of albums diminished in the digital age.

But Ellis said he hasn't strayed from his traditional process of writing 50 or 60 songs and choosing the best 10 or 12 to make an album work.

On "Speak No Evil," Ellis wrote each song and had a hand in choosing the final track listing, which includes a drug addiction lament, "The Other Side," and a pained love song called "Amanda."

"It hasn't changed," he said about the way he writes and releases his music. "I think in terms of making an album and making something cohesive. That's just the way I do it. That's the way the guys I look up to did it."

When he's not in the studio, his career has taken him all across the world, from 50 states to Russia and Canada.

Sometimes, it seems aimless, he said, when he's driving across the country in his van, across deserts in California and over mountain passes in Colorado.

But on every stage, he finds an audience and a home for his music.

It's the only life he's ever known.

"It's all I've done for over 30 years," he said. "It's no big difference. It's no big change. It's not like all of a sudden I left home."

He said he's looking forward to his return to Colorado, a state he first visited about 20 years ago.

"It will be great to be back in that area," he said. "I have friends out there that I'm looking forward to seeing, and I'm looking forward to playing a new venue and hopefully making some new friends."

If you go

What: Blues musician Tinsley Ellis

When: 9 p.m. Thursday

Where: Ghost Ranch Saloon,

56 Seventh St.

Cost: $5

Call: For more information, call the Ghost Ranch Saloon at 879-9898.

Online

Listen to Tinsley Ellis perform “Sunlight of Love” at http://www.exploresteamboat.com.