Bonus Episode: Tinsley Ellis' New Album - Naked Truth
Atlanta-based blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Tinsley Ellis visits the GPB Radio studios for a special bonus episode of the Peach Jam Podcast. Listen as Tinsley tells us about fame, seeing B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf as a kid, and his new solo acoustic album called Naked Truth. Plus, he plays a couple of tunes from the new record on a National Steel O Series guitar.
Jeremy Powell: So the music that we've heard today is not exactly the music you've been playing since the '70s, in the sense that this is really stripped down, right? So what were you before, what did or what do you normally do?
Tinsley Ellis: Normally, I guess it would be more, hard rock and blues, you know, with, with a full band: you know, screaming lead guitar and and kind of loud, you know, and, and now I'm kind of stripping it down and touring and recording in the format of acoustic folk and blues.
Jeremy Powell: And so let's talk about this guitar that you have. If you're not watching the video, this guitar is gorgeous. So please explain it to somebody who can't see it.
Tinsley Ellis: Yeah, it's a 1937 National steel guitar. And I guess back in the 1920s, 1930s, they had a craze of Hawaiian music. So you you're supposed to lay it on your lap and play kind of luau rock on it. And it's got some palm trees etched in the front. And then, of course, on the back, it's got the really, really pretty beach scene. And blues musicians got a hold of them probably around the same time these came out in the '20s and '30s, and we declared it a blues instrument because it makes a lot of racket, you know, and, and, it's a big part of — it's always been a big part of my show. I used to do a stripped down, sort of acoustic thing in the middle of the show, and so what I'm doing now is pretty much just a full extension of that.
On Friday, February 9, 2024, Alligator Records released Naked Truth, the first-ever solo acoustic album from world-renowned Atlanta-based guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Tinsley Ellis. The new album is steeped in the folk-blues traditions of Muddy Waters, Skip James, Son House, Robert Johnson and even Leo Kottke. To the casual fan, this might seem to be a new direction, but for Ellis, it’s an extension of his music, as he taps into the raw essence of the blues.
“This is a record I’ve always wanted to make, and one that my longtime fans have been asking for,” he says, noting he’s included an acoustic mini-set in his concert performances for years.