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‘Winning’ ways: Blues musician Tinsley Ellis hits the road with a new album

Tinsley Ellis is on a roll.

After releasing his 17th studio album, “Winning Hand” earlier this year, the blues musician followed that up with a tour.

And it’s been successful.

“I’ve done built my career the grassroots way,” he says during an interview while driving in Los Angeles, just as he passed the Hollywood Bowl. “Because roots music isn’t really featured on late-night TV shows, I’ve made my living by touring the country one city and town at a time. Blues fans are loyal and I’m grateful for that.”

The musician will make a stop in Albuquerque at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 4 at The Cooperage.

The stop will also mark the first time in 15 years Ellis has played Albuquerque.

“I don’t know how that happened,” he says with a laugh. “But I’ve got a lot of good friends that live there and I can’t wait to see them.”

Ellis signed with Alligator Records nearly 30 years ago and is signed again with them.

He burst out of his hometown of Atlanta in the 1980s, earning a legion of devoted fans with his pyrotechnic guitar and true-to-life songwriting.

He won deserved comparisons with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and his friend Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Ellis says growing up in the South, The Allman Brothers were also a huge influence (and a young Derek Trucks made his national recording debut on Ellis’s 1994 Alligator release, “Storm Warning.”)

With “Winning Hand,” Ellis says some of the songs were worked on for more than a decade.

“I collect the songs and put them on my laptop,” he says. “Some of the songs were written specifically for the album.”

Ellis will be performing about three or four songs from the new album and pull the rest of the set list from his catalog.

“We read the audience’s vibe when we get to a venue,” he says. “Of course, we have the new album, so those songs will be there.”

As far as his writing process, the veteran musician says his process hasn’t changed much over the course of 30 years.

“The big change in the process is that technology has changed,” he says. “Now I can record anywhere. On a laptop or a cell phone. It’s never been easier. Because inspiration hits at any given time, I’m ready to capture it.”

Tinsley Ellis
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 4
WHERE: The Cooperage, 7220 Lomas NE
HOW MUCH: $22 advance, $27 day of show at holdmyticket.com

 

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