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Texas Legend Joe Ely Comes “Full Circle” With Release of The Lubbock Tapes

Recordings Illustrate Evolution From Honky-Tonk To Harder Edge Sound

 

 

AUSTIN, TEXAS — With some 26 albums under his belt, legendary songwriter and roots rocker Joe Ely brings it all back around with the release of The Lubbock Tapes; Full Circle (Rack 'Em Records release date: August 17).

 

Recorded in 1974 and in 1978, the sessions represent two critical periods in Ely’s storied career and illustrates not only the evolution of the famed Joe Ely Band but also why he has long been considered one of the most important artists hailing from Texas.

The first batch of sessions (1974) set the table for The Joe Ely Band’s debut on MCA Records three years later. Following Ely’s 1972 work with iconic trio The Flatlanders (Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock), Ely wanted to move from solo gigs on the coffeehouse circuit to playing in larger venues. 

He needed a band. 

He enlisted Lloyd Maines (from the biggest country dance band in the region, The Maines Brothers Band) and added bassist Greg Wright and drummer Steve Keeton. It wasn’t long before The Joe Ely Band was packing clubs whenever they played.

The second batch of recordings of The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle are demos recorded in studio sessions in Lubbock, Texas in 1978 in preparation for Ely’s third MCA album, Down on the Drag. By that point, the band was complete with the addition of guitarist Jesse Taylor and accordionist Ponty Bone. 

Two recording sessions, four years apart, make it clear how Ely’s music was changing. “You can hear it going from a real honky-tonk sound to a harder edge,” Ely explains. Between Maines and Taylor a distinct sound emerged that mixed high-energy, blues-inflected rock-and-roll with varying degrees of twanged-up country, fitting in perfectly with the progressive country sound emerging out of Austin, only a little bit farther out on both the country and rock extremes.

 

Joe Ely

From the moment he made his debut in the 1970s, Joe Ely has blended rock-and-roll sensibilities to hardcore honky tonk and become one of the most recognizable and respected artists to hail from the Lonestar state.

Growing up on the vast and empty plains of West Texas, his legend was forged onstage with relentlessly riveting live performances, hammered out over thousands of shows and countless touring miles from Lubbock to London and back again the long way around. He is embraced as a kindred spirit by artists as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and The Clash. Over his four-decade career, he’s been at the forefront of Outlaw Country, Alt-Country, Texas Country and Americana, and has been recognized as one of the best songwriters of his generation.

Ely, a multiple Grammy nominee and recipient, was recognized by the Texas Legislature as the Official 2016 Texas State Musician, a coveted honor given to only a few (past recipients include Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Dale Watson & Billy Joe Shaver). Additionally the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame inducted Ely into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame, alongside such legends as Roy Orbison and J.D. Souther.  Last year, he was given the honor of being the first musician ever invited to membership to the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters, a literary organization that counts as active members such noted authors as Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy.

“There’s no mistaking a Joe Ely album,” wrote noted Dallas Morning News critic Mario Tarradell. “His stinging, road-hued voice commands lyrics about life, love and the wandering spirit. When you listen to (his albums), you’re enjoying the essence of Joe Ely. That’s the essence of Texas Music.”

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:

For more information, an advance copy of The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle, or to schedule an interview with Ely, contact Lance Cowan @ LCMedia, (615) 331-1710 or lcmedia@comcast.net