Not every path is a straight line, and the life and story of blues guitarist Eleanor Ellis is a great example. Eleanor is a founding member of the Washington DC Blues Society and the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation, but the Louisiana native took an an interesting path to the blues. Starting out as a bluegrass and folk player back in the day, she has gone on to perform at clubs, festivals and concerts in the United States, Canada and Europe.
She also traveled and played with the late gospel street singer Flora Molton and bluesman Archie Edwards, and sometimes accompanied Delta Blues great Eugene Powell.
“I’ve listened to a lot of guitarists and singers over the years and I’ve absorbed quite a bit, but I’d like to think that what I’ve taken from them I have made into something else uniquely my own.”
In addition to performing the blues, Eleanor has sought to tell the story as well. She has written for numerous publications, and is producer and editor of the video documentary Blues Houseparty, which features well-known Piedmont blues musicians such as John Jackson, John Cephas, and Archie Edwards. She also worked at the Archive of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University in New Orleans, and at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.
Larry Benicewicz of the Baltimore Blues Society has written an impressive chronicle of Eleanor’s journey and we highly recommend it. One of the reasons we enjoy having Eleanor on staff at the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival is than in addition to her top-shelf musicianship, she brings a wealth of stories and experience to the gathering.