Neighborhood Theatre & MaxxMusic present


Thu, April 26, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm (event ends at 11:30 pm)

Neighborhood Theatre

Charlotte, NC

$22 adv/$25 dos

8:00 Tinsley Ellis
9:30 Walter Trout


$3 Under 21 Surcharge at Door (Valid ID required for entry into venue. Under 18 permitted with parent.)

Accepted forms of ID: State Issued ID or Driver's License, Military ID, Passport.

Walter Trout is the beating heart of the modern blues rock scene. Respected by the old guard. Revered by the young guns. Adored by the fans who shake his hand after the show each night. After five decades in the game, Trout is a talismanic figure and the glue that bonds the blues community together, at a time when the wider world has never been so divided. He’s also the only artist with the vision, talent and star-studded address book to pull off a project on the scale of We’re All In This Together. “It was quite a piece of work to get this record together,” he admits. “But I guess I have a lot of friends, y’know…?”

Before you even hear a note, We’re All In This Together has your attention. Drafting fourteen A-list stars – including Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Mayall and Randy Bachman – and writing an original song for each, Trout has made the most tantalising album of the year, and found solace after a run of solo albums that chronicled his near-fatal liver disease of 2014. “Now was the right time for this record,” he says. “Battle Scars [2016] was such an intense piece of work, written with tears coming down my face. I needed a break from that, to do something fun and light-hearted. This album was joyous for me.”

Scan the credits of We’re All In This Together and you’ll find nods to every twist and turn of Trout’s electrifying backstory. There’s keys man and long-time friend Skip Edwards, who came up on the same early-’70s New Jersey circuit where Trout cut his teeth as the precocious lead guitarist for Wilmont Mews. There’s organ wizard Deacon Jones, the West Coast bandleader who brought a twenty-something Trout into the orbit of blues titans like John Lee Hooker and Big Mama Thornton. “Deacon sorta discovered me when I moved to LA in the ’70s,” reflects Trout. “So I owe him.”

Trout also welcomes a fistful of compadres from recent all-star project The Supersonic Blues Machine, in the form of Warren Haynes, Robben Ford and Eric Gales. Then there’s John Mayall: the ageless British blues-boom godfather who hired a troubled Trout for the Bluesbreakers in 1985 and now blows harp on Blues For Jimmy T. “Am I proud to call myself a former Bluesbreaker?” Trout reflects. “Yeah, of course. What a credential. That is a very exclusive club, and I know that when I’m gone, that’s gonna be one of the big things that they’ll remember me for: that I was a Bluesbreaker for five years.”

Since he struck out alone in 1989, Trout’s solo career has been every bit as celebrated. Touring tirelessly and spitting out classic albums that include 1990’s flag-planting Life In The Jungle, 1998’s breakthrough Walter Trout and 2012’s politically barbed Blues For The Modern Daze, he’s won international acclaim and enjoyed ever-growing sales in a notoriously fickle industry. Years on the road have also brought him tight friendships, as evidenced by 2006’s cameo-fuelled Full Circle album and this year’s unofficial sequel, We’re All In This Together. “The new album was originally gonna be called Full Circle Volume 2,” notes Trout, “but I wanted to make the title a positive statement in this time of madness.”

In another departure, whereas Full Circle saw each guest visit the studio to track their part, the advance of recording technology in the intervening decade meant Trout’s collaborators on We’re All In This Together were able to supply their contributions from afar. “In the studio, it was the core band of me, Sammy Avila [keys], Mike Leasure [drums] and Johnny Griparic [bass] on every cut, with Eric Corne producing,” he explains, “and then, for most of the tracks, people sent us their parts. But it’s very hard to tell we’re not in the studio together. If you listen to the Warren Haynes track, when we get into that guitar conversation on the end – it sounds like we’re looking each other right in the face, y’know?”

It’s true: this is an album where the chemistry fizzes, right from the first track. “I played Carnegie Hall with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and we talked about recording together,” explains Trout of the story behind opener Gonna Hurt Like Hell. “So I said to myself, ‘OK, I need to write a song for Kenny, and it needs to be an uptempo bluesy shuffle’. The lyrics could be about many different things. Say you’re a drug addict. It’s gonna feel good for a while, but as soon as you run out of drugs, it’s gonna hurt like hell. You could cheat on your wife and it’ll feel good for those ten minutes, then it’s gonna hurt like hell. I thought that Kenny played great on there. Especially the ending, when we’re trading back and forth. It’s hard to tell who’s who.”

One listen to Ain’t Goin’ Back announces the presence of Louisiana slide-guitar maestro Sonny Landreth. “He’s the greatest slide guitarist in the history of the world,” states Trout. “There’s nobody that can touch him, I don’t care who you bring up. He’s really a New Orleans musician, so I messed around with different grooves and came up with an almost ’50s-esque Americana song with lyrics about the stupid things I did in my youth. Sonny sent me his track, then called me and said, ‘I don’t know if it’s any good. If you want me to do it over, I won’t be insulted’. I’m like, ‘what are you talking about, man – it’s f*cking great!’”

On a track listing where guitar heroes dominate the credits, a curveball arrives with The Other Side Of The Pillow, driven by South Side harp pioneer Charlie Musselwhite. “I’ve known Charlie since I was with Mayall,” says Trout, “but I grew up listening to his records in high school. He’s one of the originators, along with Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop: the guys who started going into Chicago’s black clubs in the ’60s and playing blues on their own. I have a friend named Richard T. Bear – one of the top studio keyboard players – who came up with that line, ‘I’m gonna make love to another woman, because you made love to another man’. So I took his verse, and I came up with my own groove.”

One of the album’s most radio-ready moments, meanwhile, is She Listens To The Blackbird Sing, featuring ex-Royal Southern Brotherhood guitarist Mike Zito. “That was a gas to record,” remembers Trout. “I was getting ready to drive to the studio and I sat down with my acoustic guitar and that melody just came out. Mike and I go way back: he credits me with sobering him up, and I’m happy to have been a part of that. What Skip Edwards did to that song is remarkable. We gave him the raw track and he took it out to the stratosphere.”

Having bonded with Robben Ford in The Supersonic Blues Machine, Trout enlisted the jazz-blues great for the “Freddie King-esque guitar instrumental piece” that is Mr Davis. Elsewhere, the album’s sole cover – a mighty rendition of Elmore James’ The Sky Is Crying alongside Warren Haynes – was sparked by a live hook-up. “Warren invited me to play with him a few years ago at the New Orleans Jazz Festival,” recalls Trout, “and he wanted to do The Sky Is Crying. We did that song and it stopped the show. So I was talking to him at the Ramblin’ Man Fair in the UK and I said to him, ‘What do you think, maybe we should record that?’”

Writing the funk-flavoured Somebody Goin’ Down for Memphis virtuoso Eric Gales was a challenge that paid off (“He just completely blazed on that song”) while She Steals My Heart Away built bridges with Texas bandleader Edgar Winter. “There’s a bit of history there,” laughs Trout. “Twenty years, I hired Edgar’s drummer, a guy named Bernie Pershey. And then, eight years ago, I hired another drummer from him – Michael Leasure. But when I saw Edgar at Carnegie Hall, he said, ‘Oh man, don’t worry about it!’ We really hit it off and I happened to mention this record. He was methodical with his part. He’s a perfectionist.”

Crash And Burn is decorated by a star turn from electric-blues great Joe Louis Walker (“He’s got some great humour in his playing”) while Idaho soul man John Németh saved the day on Too Much To Carry. “Curtis Salgado was all set to do some harmonica and vocals,” recalls Trout, “but right before he was supposed to record, he had a heart attack and a bypass operation. So we got in touch with John, and he was gracious enough to jump in.”

Joining Trout Senior on Do You Still See Me At All is eldest son, Jon. “We sat down with guitars in the kitchen and wrote that tune together,” recalls the Trout paterfamilias. “I think Jon has my musical DNA, and that’s understandable – he’s been hearing me play since he was in the womb. What’s really moving to me is that Jon played guitar from the time he was a little kid, but he liked different styles of music and never tried to play leads or blues. Then I got sick and he felt like he was going to lose me. He made the decision that he needed to carry this stuff on. And that’s when he dug in and began teaching himself how to solo.”

Randy Bachman’s contribution to Got Nothin’ Left, meanwhile, was sparked by an encounter at last year’s Jeff Healey 50th Celebration Show in Toronto. “Randy tapped me on the shoulder and goes, ‘Man, I was driving, and this guitar solo came on the radio, and it got so intense I had to pull over. I called up the radio station – and it was you, man!’ We became friends, started emailing back and forth, and I wrote something for him that was ’50s rock ‘n’ roll. When his vocal comes in, I started laughing, because I just heard Takin’ Care Of Business by BTO. His voice hasn’t changed!”

Nor has the hand-in-glove relationship between Trout and Mayall, who delivers a harp masterclass on Blues For Jimmy T. “That was pretty awesome,” nods Trout. “Even though John has been on three of my records, it’s still the biggest honour for me. This time, I wanted to do something different with him. That’s why I came up with the idea of doing an acoustic song, kinda like a Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee type of thing, with lyrics about my old bass player and best friend Jimmy Trapp. It’s really emotional for me to hear that.”

Last – but most assuredly not least – is the title track, which saw the formidable Joe Bonamassa hit the studio in person to go head-to-head with Trout’s band. “That track, we did live,” reflects the bandleader. “Joe specifically requested that he played with the band. He told me: ‘I really want to be on this record, but I want to come in and play live with you, I don’t want to just overdub. I have one day in March and I have three hours – and that’s it’. It was awesome. We were sitting three feet away from each other, just going at it.”

They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. If that’s the case, then We’re All In This Together is further proof of Walter Trout’s position at the hub of the blues scene. This is the sound of an artist not just getting by with a little help from his friends, but positively thriving, on an album that is sure to light another rocket under his blooming late career. “I’m 66 years old,” considers Trout, “but I feel like I’m in the best years of my life right now. I feel better than I have in years physically. I have more energy. I have a whole different appreciation of being alive, of the world, of my family, of my career. I want life to be exciting and celebratory. I want to dig in. I want to grab life by the balls and not let go, y’know…?”
Since his Alligator debut 30 years ago, Southern blues-rock guitar wizard, vocalist and songwriter Tinsley Ellis has become a bona fide worldwide guitar hero. The Chicago Sun-Times says, “It’s hard to overstate the raw power of his music.” Now, he makes his triumphant return to Alligator Records with a powerful new album, Winning Hand. Armed with his signature molten licks, melodic riffs and rousing, intense solos, Ellis, as his legions of fans will attest, is among the blues world’s best-loved, hardest working and most well-travelled statesmen. He has performed in all 50 United States as well as in Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia and South America, earning legions of fans with his guitar virtuosity, passionate vocals and memorable original songs.

Ellis is also revered as a guitarist’s guitarist, with famous friends including Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Oliver Wood, Jonny Lang and members of Widespread Panic calling on him to sit in and jam. “A musician never got famous staying home,” he says. Recorded in Nashville and produced by Ellis and keyboardist Kevin McKendree, the ten brilliantly performed, fervently sung tracks on Winning Hand include nine originals, ranging from blistering blues to heart-pounding rock to soulful ballads. As his only cover song, Ellis pays tribute to his greatest guitar-playing and songwriting influences with a Freddie King-inspired version of rock legend Leon Russell’s Dixie Lullaby. “Guitar, guitar, guitar is what this album is all about,” says Ellis, who recorded primarily with his 1959 Fender Stratocaster, his 1967 Gibson ES 345 and his 1973 Les Paul Deluxe. Guitar World says, “Ellis’ playing sparkles with depth and subtlety. Whether playing deep, slow blues or uptempo rockers, Ellis rides a gorgeously fat, pure tone.” Born in Atlanta in 1957, Ellis was raised in southern Florida. He discovered the blues through the back door of British Invasion bands like The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream and The Rolling Stones as well as Southern rockers like The Allman Brothers. One night he and a friend were listening to records when his friend’s older brother told them if they liked blues, they should really be listening to B.B. King. As luck would have it, King was in town for a week, and the upcoming Saturday afternoon show was just for teenagers. Tinsley and his friend went, sitting transfixed in the front row. When B.B. broke a string on Lucille, he changed it without missing a beat, and handed the broken string to Ellis. After the show, B.B. came out and talked with fans, mesmerizing Tinsley with his warmth and kindness. Tinsley’s fate was now sealed; he had to become a blues guitarist. He saw Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and every other blues artist who came through town, always sitting up front, always waiting to meet the artists, take photos, get autographs. And yes, he still has B.B.’s string. Already an accomplished teenaged musician, Ellis left Florida and returned to Atlanta in 1975. He soon joined a gritty local blues band, the Alley Cats. In 1981, along with veteran blues singer and harpist Chicago Bob Nelson, Tinsley formed The Heartfixers, a group that would become Atlanta’s top-drawing blues band. After cutting a few Heartfixers albums for the Landslide label, Ellis was ready to head out on his own. Georgia Blue, Tinsley’s first Alligator release, hit the unprepared public by surprise in 1988. Critics and fans quickly agreed that a new and original guitar hero had emerged. The Chicago Tribune said, “Tinsley Ellis torches with molten fretwork. Ellis takes classic, Southern blues-rock workouts and jolts them to new life with a torrid ax barrage.” Tinsley’s next four releases—1989’s Fanning The Flames, 1992’s Trouble Time, 1994’s Storm Warning, and 1997’s Fire It Up—further grew his fan base and his fame. Features and reviews ran in Rolling Stone, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and in many other national and regional publications. Guests including Peter Buck (R.E.M.), guitarist Derek Trucks (who made his recording debut with Tinsley at age 14) and keyboardist Chuck Leavell (The Rolling Stones) have joined him in the studio. Ellis’ song A Quitter Never Wins was recorded by Jonny Lang, selling over a million copies. He in turn has made guest appearances on albums by The Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule, Colonel Bruce Hampton and others. Producers Eddy Offord (John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Yes) and even the legendary Tom Dowd (The Allman Brothers, Ray Charles) helped Ellis hone his studio sound. A move to Capricorn Records in 2000 saw Ellis revisiting his Southern roots. In 2002, he joined the Telarc label, producing two well-received albums of soul-drenched blues-rock. He returned to Alligator in 2005, releasing Live-Highwayman, which captured the crowd-pleasing energy of his live shows. He followed it with two more incendiary studio releases, 2007’s Moment Of Truth and 2009’s Speak No Evil. He has since self-released four successful albums on his own Heartfixer label. Over the course of his career, Ellis has shared stages with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, The Allman Brothers, Leon Russell, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins and many others. Whether he’s on stage with his own band or jamming with artists like Buddy Guy, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov’t Mule or Widespread Panic, he always plays with grit, soul and unbridled passion. Back home on Alligator Records with his new album and a massive live tour in the works, Tinsley Ellis is ready to prove again that whenever he picks up a guitar, he’s playing with a winning hand.
Venue Information:
Neighborhood Theatre
511 East 36th Street
Charlotte, NC, 28205