Tinsley Ellis Screams for Ice Cream

Atlanta’s best-known modern blues export, Tinsley Ellis, returns Jan. 31 with his latest Alligator Records release, Ice Cream in Hell.

Ever since kicking off his career in Atlanta in the 1970s, Ellis hasn’t needed the holidays for an excuse to think about the tireless journey of three kings (Albert, B.B. and Freddie). His new album goes beyond the usual suspects, with new material already netting comparisons to everyone from Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green (“Everything and Everyone”) to another longtime Ellis hero, Hound Dog Taylor (“Sit Tight Mama”).

As those reference points suggest, Ellis strikes the right chord between British blues-rock tradition and the influence of American blues masters on popular music. Like many born in the ’50s, Ellis got his first guitar after seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Instead of following the Fab Four down trippier paths, Ellis seems to have flipped through rock and the blues’ back pages for inspiration.

Ellis’ mix of blues precision and rock flair has kept him on the road for over 40 years. He continues to gift a loyal fan base by sticking to his three kings while others bow to various other members of pop and roots music royalty (Bob Wills, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, King Diamond, etc.). He’ll play an album release show for Ice Cream in Hell at Atlanta’s City Winery on Jan. 31.