TOUGH LOVE is a self-released CD and vinyl LP from Tinsley Ellis.
James Brown once said the definition of Soul is “being proud of where you came from." Without question, Tinsley Ellis is proud to be from Georgia, a state blessed with a rich Rhythm and Blues heritage, having spawned James Brown, Otis Redding, The Allman Brothers Band and numerous other major influences. Tinsley Ellis wears his Southern roots proudly and that is most evident on his latest album, TOUGH LOVE, wherein he blends the red clay soul of those who came before him with the finely honed power of blues guitar and heartfelt vocals. TOUGH LOVE takes the listener on a musical journey from the Georgia roadhouse through the Blues juke joint and beyond.
TOUGH LOVE is the third offering from Ellis’s own label, Heartfixer Music, which he launched in 2013 with the release of the all-instrumental GET IT!,followed by 2014’s MIDNIGHT BLUE. With help from longtime veterans of Delbert McClinton’s band, including Nashville keyboard whiz Kevin McKendree (Brian Setzer), bassist Steve Mackey, and drummer Lynn Williams (John Hiatt) TOUGH LOVE combines first rate musicianship with Tinsley’s expert production guidance, surely the mark of an experienced craftsman whose lessons learned from gifted mentors Eddy Offord, Tom Dowd and company have resulted in sonically superb music.
The lifestyle of a traveling Blues musician can be tough to love, but through the years Ellis has thrived on it. Late nights, long drives and Spartan living conditions have been a steady diet for him since he emerged 35 years ago as a highly regarded blues guitarist, about whom Billboard magazine commented that “he sings and plays with the conviction of a man possessed.” With 17 albums and literally thousands of live performances to his credit, Ellis easily ranks as one of today’s most electrifying blues-rock guitarists and vocalists.
Highly regarded for his six string mastery, Tinsley has further developed into one of the genre’s most notable tunesmiths. From the beginning, his records were dotted with creative blues covers and strong self-penned compositions. His “A Quitter Never Wins,” from the album STORM WARNING, has become a blues standard, covered by several artists, including Jonny Lang on his double platinum seller, LIE TO ME. Consequently, TOUGH LOVE consists of all original tunes that showcase Ellis’ distinctive style and versatile ability. “I’ve never been more proud of an album than I am of TOUGH LOVE,” says Ellis.
Born in Atlanta in 1957, Tinsley first played guitar at age eight and found the blues through the back door of British Invasion bands like The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream, and The Rolling Stones. He especially loved the Kings — Freddie, B.B. and Albert — and spent hours immersing himself into their music. His love for the blues solidified when he was 14. At a B.B. King performance, Tinsley sat mesmerized in the front row. When B.B. broke a string on Lucille, he changed it without missing a beat, and handed the broken string to Ellis. After the show, B.B. came out and talked with fans, further impressing Tinsley with his warmth and down-to-earth attitude. By now Tinsley’s fate was sealed; he had to become a blues guitarist. And yes, he still has that string.
Ellis has played in all 50 states, as well as Canada, Europe, Australia and South America. He has shared stages with almost every major blues star, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins and many others. Whether he’s out with his own band or sitting in with major artists like Derek Trucks, Buddy Guy, The Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule or Widespread Panic, he always digs deep and plays, as Guitar Player magazine says, “…as if his life depended on it.” With TOUGH LOVE and ongoing non-stop touring, Ellis will bring his monumental guitar work and intensely powerful vocals to rock and blues fans all over the world, letting his songs and his guitar do the talking.