Atlanta welcomed Tinsley Ellis and Delta Moon to the Variety Playhouse in Little 5 Points Saturday night. It was a homecoming for Ellis and a welcome opportunity for long-time favorites Delta Moon as well.
Delta Moon started things off with a rousing set of numbers, including several from their not-yet released CD coming soon. Among the favorites they played were “Black Cat Oil,” “Clear Blue Flame,” “Jessie Mae,” and “Black Coffee.” The audience let them know they were loved and appreciated from the first notes. For those who had not seen them before, it was a delightful surprise. Kudos go to Ellis for choosing such a strong opening act.
Tinsley Ellis then took the stage. The majority of the full house were friends and fans of Ellis and they knew what to expect. He seems incapable of giving a bad show. After all, he has been in the business for more than 40years and he is at home on the stage as well as being a master of the guitar and a powerful vocalist.
“I got my start in Little 5 Points in the 70’s,” said Ellis, “playing at Little 5 Points Pub. It’s good to be in Little 5 Points playing the blues today.” It was obvious that many in the audience also remembered those early days, as they happily called out the names of some of the clubs he played when he asked them to a little later in the show. “MoonShadow, The Harveest Moon..”
Ellis played songs from his latest CD, Tough Love, including one that has been getting local airplay, “Midnight Ride,” as well as other favorites from his albums such as “Highwayman,” “Cut You Loose,” “The Axe,” and “The Devil For a Dime.” Another highlight was the instrumental cover of Bo Diddley’s “Detour,” which let Ellis show off what a guitar master he really is.
The most poignant part of the show, though, was the “coffeehouse” set that Ellis did.. Sitting on a stool, he reminisced about his younger days, seeing and meeting B.B. King and seeing some of the other great bluesmen like Howling Wolf (he said he never met The Wolf. He meant to, he said, but “the closer I got the bigger and angrier he looked. So I took a left turn and went and got a Coke.”_ He then played several classic blues songs, including “Little Red Rooster.” At the end of the coffee house set, he ditched the stool and played a rousing version of Hank Ballard’s “Surgaree.”
Two hours into the show, we had to leave (around 11:15.) Things were supposed to end at 11:30, but my friends tell me it was actually after 12. Shortly after we left, Ellis asked when everybody needed to be home. He said he didn’t come to stop playing at 11:30 and played on for a little while more! That’s a man who loves to play and loves his audience, and they love him right back!
Rack up another great night for the blues, in another fantastic Atlanta music venue!