Let's cut to the chase: Tinsley Ellis is a phenomenal electric guitarist, and he's no slouch on vocals.
Since he first drew regional attention in the late '70s and early '80s as lead guitarist in the whip-tight Atlanta-based houserockin' blues legends the Heartfixers, on through his current role as bandleader and frontman, Ellis has made a name for himself worldwide as one of the leading exponents of soulful, contemporary blues. He writes and plays songs that (sonically) sit nicely alongside modern rock yet proudly proclaim their allegiance to old-school, rural roots music.
Back in the day, the Heartfixers were veritable fixtures in Savannah. Their keyboardist Scott Alexander was a local who, along with fellow music aficionado Tim Coy, had a vested interest in both River Street's almost mythical live music venue the Night Flight CafÃ© and Atlanta's indie label Landslide Records, which was home to the Heartfixers, Webb Wilder & The Beatnecks and Widespread Panic, among other notable Southeastern alternative acts.
Tinsley has toured internationally for decades (even in Russia), but it's been years since he's played here in town. On Dec. 6, he'll come close when he plays the restored historic Mars Theatre in Springfield (about a 40-minute drive from downtown Savannah) on his "Back To Georgia Tour."
That outing finds Ellis and his band co-billed with legendary Southern rock and R&B guitarist and songwriter Tommy Talton, a founding member of Capricorn recording artists Cowboy, who's also recorded and/or toured with everyone from The Allman Brothers Band and Bonnie Bramlett to Mountain and Clarence Carter.
Ellis promises the entire show will run around three hours (including a brief intermission).
"Tommy plays a full set with his group, and I do the same with mine," he explains. "He'll play songs off his latest CD, and I'll be doing several off mine ('Midnight Blue'). Plus, I'll join him as a guest on one of his songs and vice versa. It'll be a long night of Georgia state-grown guitar music!
"It's a real treat to do this with Tommy because as a fan, I go back 40 years, but we actually first played together back in the late '70s. He's a little bit older than me, and when I was a college student just starting out, I never thought I'd have the chance to jam with him, let alone share a tour, so this means a lot."
Ellis also says he's extremely excited to be playing in our area again, because it holds a special spot in his heart.
"I put this tour together because I wanted to reconnect with some of the towns I used to play 30 or 35 years ago, and to see some of those old friends and fans," he says. "Savannah is one of the places I really got my start in the business. It's an important place to me."