Saving Grace - Tinsley Elis

from the album Winning Hand (2018)

Once upon a nasty, rainy night, maybe twenty years ago, Jack Yoder and I were looking to drink cheap beer and listen to the blues.  Soon after, we were at the bar at the Northside Tavern. The crowd consisted of a well-chosen few.  Frank Edwards - Mr. Frank - was sitting on his usual stool between the side of the stage and the rest room.  As always, we bought him a drink.

A few other Atlanta blues luminaries were floating in and out.

I don't recall who the band was, but Tinsley Ellis joined them on stage.  His tone and technique on the guitar left us raw.  I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

After he finished, we drove back to my place - Jack was living on my couch at the time - in silence.  No words were necessary.

I took my trusty basset hound - Elmore James - out for a quick squirt.  When we came back, Jack was in the kitchen - fixing a Jack & Coke and shaking his head - "Holy mother-fuckin' shit," he said.

I lit a bong and the three of us (me, Jack, & Elmore) sat up past 2am talking about the blues and about that crazy-ass tone.  Was it blues?  Was it rock?  Why would anyone listen to Clapton when they could be listening to him?

Saving Grace is the final track on the new Tinsley Ellis album, Winning Hand.  The guitar tone on this tune reminds me of that night.  Listen as the long notes ring out.  It is distorted, menacing, and sedated all at the same time.  It sits back, like a snake, then, following a roll of the snare, it strikes with a venomous guitar lead.  Holy mother-fuckin' shit.

What I wouldn't give to be listening to this with Jack and Elmore right now...

Click Here to watch Tinsley Ellis play Saving Grace at a Tampa bar back in 2011.

Click Here to read my January 2014 blog post on Catalunya by Tinsley Ellis.