Tinsley Ellis has been rockin’ the blues in Atlanta – and subsequently, around the world – since the dawn of the 1980s. He’s always drawn inspiration from the roots music of the South (and Georgia in particular), and by now the veteran musician is firmly entrenched as part of it. And as the title of his forthcoming 19th album Red Clay Soul confirms, he’s still gleefully celebrating it.
“Georgia is where the Blues has got Soul,” Ellis offers. “From the gospel inspired Ray Charles, to the R&B of James Brown and Otis Redding, to the rock and roll of Little Richard, to the blues rock of The Allman Brothers Band, all these acts have one thing in common. They all have the sound of Georgia and down here we call that sound red clay soul.”
The new album, out June 3rd, comes via Ellis’ own independent Heartfixer Music label, named after Tinsley’s popular Atlanta-based blues band of the ‘80s, The Heartfixers (whose name was itself inspired by the Albert King song “Heartfixin’ Business.” “I’ve been in the business of music for over 40 years now,” Ellis stresses. “I’ve been passed around like a joint from label to label, from booking agency to booking agency, from manager to manager, and from producer to producer, so I’ve learned a lot. Knowing what works in the music business can be very valuable, but knowing what doesn’t work in the music business is priceless. Things are changing fast in the music business, and it’s adapt or die.”
Upcoming tour dates will find Ellis and his band playing the Cox Capitol Theatre in downtown Macon on June 17th, and the new City Winery Atlanta on June 25th.