Georgia-born blues guitarist Tinsley Ellis may be best known for his stint as lead guitarist of the Heartfixers, an Atlanta aggregation that developed a cult following in the 80s as one of the hottest young southern R & B outfits since the Allmans. His early influences ranged from B.B. King to James Brown, and he's added a healthy dollop of Texas and New Orleans to his repertoire, making him among our most stylistically diverse young musicians. But Ellis no dilettante: he brings equal amounts of passion to good-time R & B ("Look-ka-py-py") and classic blues ballads (Albert King's "As the Years Go Passing By"), and he's got a puckish sense of humor that makes itself felt in the buoyant danceability of his up-tempo numbers and his affection for novelty standards like Tampa Red's "She Wants to Sell My Monkey." His fretwork is searing on rockers and surprisingly subtle when he turns the jets down to a low flame, and he's got an expressive, soulful voice that immediately sets him apart from most of his contemporaries. Wednesday, B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted; 5281012. Thursday, Biddy Mulligan's, 7644 N. Sheridan; 761-6532.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Peter Amft.