Tinsley Ellis broke onto the national blues scene with his early ’80s band, the Heartfixers. By late in the decade, when the Atlanta-based guitarist and singer began releasing albums under his own name, he also became a fixture in the genre’s international club and festival circuit. Over the years he's earned a reputation for full-throttle live shows and well-crafted albums that hinge on his powerful singing and on his playing, which is based in tradition but packed with signature moves like deft finger slides, the use of open, ringing strings in single-note solos, and bends borrowed from B.B. King but laden with his own emotionalism and rock 'n' roll energy.
Ellis has been a seemingly tireless road warrior—at least until Covid. But even the pandemic couldn't slow his songwriting, and he penned more than 200 new titles while in lockdown. You can hear 10 of those tunes, including 6-string bonfires like “Slow Train To Hell,” on his new album Devil May Care—the 20th in his catalog. Back on the road this year, Ellis stopped at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley on March 3, where he showed Premier Guitar his rig and told stories of close encounters with B.B. King and other greats after soundcheck and, that night, delivered a sermon on the power and glory of blues. His current run continues until the end of May, and Ellis has just been nominated in the 2022 Blues Music Awards for Blue-Rock Entertainer of the Year.