Tony Ellis bio 1998

By Art Menius

Tony Ellis

“Appalachian Eloquence” best describes this unique blend of instruments including Tony Ellis playing banjo and fiddle, guitarist Bill Ellis, Debbie Norris playing Celtic harp, and Louise Adkins on a Chaplain’s pump organ. This ensemble plays captivating music from Appalachian and Celtic traditions along with original music written by Tony in the same vein. Described as “the backwoods Bach,” Tony was introduced on the National Council for the Traditional Arts’ Masters of the 5-String Banjo tour as “a banjo and fiddle player of astounding skill and innovation, a legend among people who really know bluegrass and old-time music.” The North Carolina native’s skills as a composer match his instrumental abilities. He has created stunningly beautiful solo pieces for the banjo. “Tony’s highly eclectic mixture of traditional sounding tunes – waltzes, lullabies, airs, and other melodic creations – belie musical categorization. [He] has reached beyond tradition as he inherited it, yet continues in its aura.”

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