Tinsley Ellis has traveled a million miles, and through that journey he has become a man with clarity about where he stands today and his future destination. As a proud Georgia-based artist, with his new album Red Clay Soul he celebrates a legacy built on four decades of performing, recording and song writing. Travelers headed to Florida or other destinations in the Southeastern U.S. encounter red clay embankments as they hit the state of Georgia, and Ellis has chosen to title this new collection Red Clay Soul to celebrate the music of the area. He offers, "Georgia is where the Blues has got Soul. 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."
Over the past 40 years, Tinsley Ellis has performed in all 50 states, across Canada, Europe, South America and Australia. He's taken the stage in Russia, the Canary Islands and other destinations not on the traditional touring circuit. His vision for the future is to continue to release the type of albums that push the boundaries of Blues and to expand his touring radius.
There are a number of special guests on the new album who have strong ties and history to Ellis' career. Oliver Wood from The Wood Brothers, and keyboardist/producer Kevin McKendree both return as a collaborators. Ellis states, "Kevin is someone I have recorded with on every studio album I've done since Fire It Up, which was produced by Tom Dowd. On this one, he co-produced with me for the first time, and it was his idea to record live in the studio. That insight and vision yielded an album that is different and more exciting than the others we've done in his Nashville-based studio. When it comes to Oliver Wood, he was in my band in 1993-94, and was a big part of my 1994 Storm Warning album. A decade ago, we wrote "Givin' You Up," and it finally comes out on Red Clay Soul. I love what Oliver brings to the song on both guitar and vocals. We decided to leave the long jam version on the album, and it's fun as hell."
The new album is on Ellis' own Heartfixer Music label, of which he reveals, "I've been in the business of music for over 40 years now. 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." The label name comes from a piece of his own history. In 1981, "Chicago" Bob Nelson and Ellis formed a traditional Blues band called The Heartfixers in Atlanta, a name inspired by the Albert King song called Heartfixin' Business. The label is named after that band. The Heartfixers recorded 4 LPs, and disbanded when Ellis signed to Alligator Records as a solo artist in 1988.
"Feral blues guitar...non-stop gigging has sharpened his six-string to a razor's edge...his eloquence dazzles...he achieves pyrotechnics that rival early Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton." - Rolling Stone