THERE'S something you should know about Americana singer/songwriter Tawny Ellis—she was born here in Savannah; her military Dad was stationed at Hunter. Before his daughter was a year old, however, Tawny’s old man got re-assigned to the Phillipines.
Still, her extended family is scattered throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. “Throughout the years I have played a lot of different styles of music,” she told Connect a few years ago, “but I think growing up with my father from the Deep South— he played a lot of Hank Williams, he played a lot of Conway Twitty, and Waylon Jennings—I think it just got in my blood.”
After a stint as a hard-rock and studio pop singer, Ellis “came home” to acoustic music, harmony and heartfelt emotion with the 2009 album Evolve or Die. “I feel like that was a real natural way for me to go,” she said at the time. Ellis was described (by yours truly) as a “Goth Patsy Cline.” There are hints of everyone from Wanda Jackson to Emmylou Harris to Neko Case in her voice.
As for that title: “Every year, it’s either you get older or you die,” she explained. “I kind of feel that way about music. I don’t really have a choice. It’s like an expression that has to happen for me. Once I felt that real connection to this style of music, when I started to write in that genre the songs just came so easily for me. The stories just sort of came through. It was a real strong fit, and I think it has to do with the fabric of where I came from.” Ellis, who resides in California (she also sculpts, creates jewelry and cares for rescue dogs) is touring—with her husband and guitar-mate, Giovanni Loria—behind the EP Blow By Blow.
With Waits & Co. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26. $7 advance/$10 at the door.