Robert EllisMon 21st October 2019
We’ve loved Robert Ellis ever since seeing him support Richard Thomson in Leeds a few years back. It was obvious he was an original, great songs, voice and guitar playing, he managed to grab the attention of an 800 plus crowd that was only really there to see the great man. We’ve followed him through three very different albums from the mainly acoustic ‘Photographs’ through ‘The Lights From The Chemical Plant’ and his eponymously titled third. Now he makes another departure, with ‘Texas Piano Man’ and he brings his band across to tour for the first time. We just had to grab him and he only had a Monday available, so here he is! Give him a big welcome.
N.B. May contain some strong language!
“We make a lot of assumptions about different people. Heck, I like Liberace. I got a kick out of him. He played vaudeville. And he was reverent about it. He’d come out with all the rings on his fingers. It was like, ‘You could have this, too. I’m going to bring a little elegance into your rotten tomato life.’” – Tom Waits
Indeed, we particularly make a lot of assumptions about people who make songs for a living. Because Robert Ellis and his band were fluent in honky tonk and capable of burning through dozens of George Jones standards on any given night, he could have found his boots set in concrete. He has instead over the course of now four albums done his best to set wide parameters for his musical expression, befitting a guy from a state nearly 800 miles from one end to the other.
Had we paid more attention, we might’ve seen the Texas Piano Man coming with his white tuxedo and bouquet of yellow roses to hand out to fans. Maybe we made some assumptions about him. After all, Robert Ellis traveled the world for a few years, playing songs and pouring sweat each night into the unforgiving fabric of a lapis-colored western suit with Titan rockets embellishing the sleeves and a space suit-clad Buzz Aldrin standing on the flaps. If rhinestones were truly stars, the stages wouldn’t have needed lights. Something inside wanted out. Or as one of his bandmates put it: Ellis had to create a character in order to finally be himself on stage.
Which brings us to the Texas Piano Man, a character or persona that isn’t made up whole cloth, but rather a large projection of Ellis’ wilder inclinations. A guy who named his publishing company Southern Liberace has embraced the idea of being a Rocket Man from Space City. “With Texas, people expect a certain thing and they want a certain thing, and I fought that for a long time,” he says. “I’ve realized though that Texas shouldn’t be made a category. I want to redefine what it means to be Texan a little bit.” This is the Texas Piano Man who made Texas Piano Man, a record that nods at its honky tonk roots set by a guitarist as he finds more room to roam while playing a stationary instrument and pulls from a tradition set by Billy Joel, Leon Russell and Elton John. Guys who sat at that large stationary instrument, and plinked away at it in a manner that balanced honesty and mythology.
plus support Joe Martin
oe Martin, a Lancashire based singer songwriter is deservedly gaining major attention on both sides of the Atlantic. As a child Joe was brought up listening to artists from Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt to the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. Songs that tell a story played a big part in what Joe would be listening to in his formative years. This can be heard in the music he’s making now.
The past few years have been an experience-rich journey helping Joe refine his song writing and storytelling craft. Playing the pre-eminent Bluebird Cafe in Nashville Tennessee was a profound moment for Joe, the feeling of coming full circle, after being inspired by the show Nashville on which the Bluebird was regularly featured. Meeting and taking advice from his song writing idol John Paul White of the Civil Wars a week before his Bluebird debut was also an inspirational moment.
“The night I was at the Bluebird a young Englishman with a rich, resonant voice named Joe Martin seemed primed for bigger things.” - Jeremy Egner New York Times.
In 2017 Joe released his debut EP ‘Small World’ to much acclaim and has recently recorded a suite of singles with the Champs of the much respected UK Americana band ‘Danny and the Champions of the World’. Joe will be releasing his next single ‘Love Strong’ on October 1st 2018 and the following two singles in the first half of 2019.
‘A cut above the plethora of acoustic singer-songwriters. Joe Martin shows an abundance of promise’ –Americana UK
‘Joe Martin is an artist who knows who he wants to be and has a voice of his own, a rare original glimmer in a sea of Nashville wannabes’ - Six Shooter Country