Robert Ellis’ record release party at Fitzgerald’s last night couldn’t have gone better. Just walking into the upstairs room and looking at the beautifully decorated stage, it was clear this would be a special night. The stage was decorated by Destiny Ellis (Robert’s wife), with a backdrop of album covers from the artists who have inspired Robert the most. Willie Nelson, Marty Robbins and Loretta Lynn were just a few of the artist represented.
Khruangbin (pronounced ‘gaan bin’) opened the show and was an unexpected delight. Taking their name from the Thai phrase for ‘airplane‘ (the literal translation is ‘engine fly’), the guitar, bass and drums trio played a refreshing set of instrumental music including the infectious ‘Ha Fang Kheng Kan’. Surprisingly, this was Khruangbin’s debut performance. With such a strong debut, it’s certain we’ll be seeing a lot more of them.
Next was Johnny Corndawg, joined onstage by Robert Ellis for his first two songs. Robert told the crowd he had learned the songs only moments before walking out on stage, but no one would have known had he not said anything. One of those was the risque ‘Shaved Like A Razor,’ which quickly became a crowd favorite along with the very memorable ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Chevy Beretta.’ Another highlight was ‘Trashday,’ a humorous song dedicated to ‘anyone who is married, has contemplated marriage, or has been divorced.’ As a live performer with a great sense of humor and a strong personality, Johnny Corndawg’s songs come alive in a way that his studio recordings have so far failed to capture. A live album would be a great choice for Corndawg's next project.
Robert Ellis & The Boys took the stage before a packed house of enthusiastic fans eager to celebrate the release of Ellis’ New West Records debut, ‘Photographs.’ Watching Ellis on stage, it’s hard not to think of the early days of such legendary artists as Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons. Ellis is a natural performer whose connection with the hometown crowd was as tight as his backing band, The Boys. The five musicians played a long set of Ellis’ originals highlighted by ‘Comin’ Home,’ ‘What’s In It For Me,’ and the title track ‘Photographs.’ Ellis closed the set with ‘No Fun,‘ only to return to the stage after a short break to play requests and just have some good old fun.
Robert Ellis & The Boys continue their summer tour with two nights at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville, TN on July 8th and 9th as they make their way out east including a stop at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ on July 12th. Ellis will be back in Texas on July 23rd when he plays Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton.