THE LOW COUNTRY BLUES: Tinsley Ellis takes the stage at Savannah Music Festival


On Feb. 15, legendary guitarist Tinsley Ellis will make his highly anticipated return to Savannah, performing at District Live in the Plant Riverside District as part of the Savannah Music Festival.

The Savannah Music Festival holds special significance for Ellis. It's not just another gig, "I've always wanted to be a part of the Savannah Music Festival," he admits.

The opportunity came organically when one of the organizers saw his summer show at The Tybee Post Theater and invited him to perform. Ellis is excited to be a part of it and looks forward to driving from Macon to Savannah, reminiscing about the lonely road and anticipating the excitement that awaits him.

Savannah's soulful atmosphere has always inspired Ellis. He describes it as "the lowland of the blues," a place with a deep spiritual connection.
When asked about his past experiences in Savannah, Ellis recalls, "I've been playing Savannah River Street, in particular, for over 40 years now. I did my first show down there in Savannah in 1979, and then starting in the early '80s."

"I used to play a place called the Night Light Cafe in Savannah. Despite this absence, Ellis reflects, "This feels like home."

Ellis is ready to break out new material from his latest release. His album, "Naked Truth," takes a stripped-down approach, a departure from his usual electric sound. "Acoustic guitar has been the foundation of everything I've done," Ellis explains. "This is an album I always wanted to make."

But Ellis isn't just a guitar player. He's a master storyteller. With songs written on his old Martin and a 1937 National steel guitar, he weaves tales of Georgia roots and influences, creating a captivating blend of music and storytelling. "Some songs interspersed with some stories, that's the pattern," says Ellis.

While he will acknowledge his songwriting, he knows his guitar skills are what draw people to his concerts, "People come to my concerts to hear guitar playing. I know why I'm there," Ellis notes.

When asked about inspiration during his song writing process, Ellis responded, "I'm glad you asked, that is because I usually write on acoustic, and I'll be doing some songs during the show that I wrote and wrote acoustically and then performed electrically," Ellis explains. "Fans had asked for this acoustic album during the pandemic. I posted videos weekly called Sunday Morning Coffee songs, where I performed a song acoustically every week. So this is kind of an extension of that."

For Ellis, it's all about capturing the vibe. "Set the mood right, and the music flows. Best-written song won't mean a thing if the soul ain't there." And the soul, my friends, is simmering in Savannah.

As Ellis embarks on this journey, he is grateful for the opportunity and eager to share his new album with the world. He looks forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. "I look forward to seeing all my friends," he says with a smile.

On Thursday, Feb. 15th, Savannah will come alive with the soulful blues of Tinsley Ellis at District Live. For more information and tickets, visit: https://www.savannahmusicfestival.org/venue/district-live-at-plant-riverside-district/

Brett Bigelow

Brett Bigelow loves all things music and food; so much so that he curates his favorites spots on Savannah's on-line concierge, SavannahMadeSimple.com. As the frontman for Brett Bigelow and the OTL Band, he's got a pulse on Savannah's music scene.


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