While covering music in Greater Binghamton for the past few years, I’ve seen plenty of performances. Needless to say, some of them have been wonderful experiences, while others...well, perhaps the musicians were having an off day. (That’s me, Mr. Benefit-of-the-Doubt.)
Ellis, though, is in a class by herself. This folk-rocker, while always full of passion in her songwriting and live shows, has matured into a charismatic performer over the past 10 years. Her lyrics and poetic and personal, yet somehow approachable; her guitar-playing and sense of melody are moving targets, never static from song to song. While she can be a deep thinker and empathetic songwriter, she also isn’t afraid to write humorous songs that poke fun at herself and society.
She has built up a considerable fanbase in her hometown of Minneapolis, and she has toured nationwide at colleges and on the women’s circuit. In the past few years, her music has gained wider acclaim: 2007 Telluride Troubadour Songwriting Contest Top Ten Finalist; 2006 Emerging Artist Showcase winner at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (voted on by festival attendees); 2006 “Best Female Artist” nominee in Campus Activities Magazine.
I saw her in May as part of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival preview tour as well as on the main stage of the 2007 festival in July – two of the “prizes” for the three showcase winners – and she was magnetic each time. She definitely made quite an impression on the festival attendees that I spoke with, and she sold a ton of her CDs – both rather exceptional at a festival that included such heavy-hitters as Mary Gauthier, Dar Williams, and Arlo Guthrie.
Ellis will be playing Saturday for the Cornell Folk Song Society, where she’s sure to preview songs from her new CD, Break the Spell (out early next year). It’s great stuff.
Hope to see you there.
- Chris Kocher is a writer and editor for the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton and a guest blogger for Mixed Media.
Concert Spotlight: Ellis in Ithaca (2007)