You can expect to hear a few tunes from blues legend Robert Johnson, or Neil Young and Hank Williams, and perhaps a William Blake poem set to music when Jack Henry Ellis returns to Moab this week.
The Colorado musician will be performing at The Blu Pig, 811 S. Main St., at 7 p.m., on Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23.
“They’re songs I’ve played a long time and really love,” Ellis said. “I’m a collector of songs.”
Bob Dylan got him started in literature and poetry, the former high school and college writing and literature teacher said.
Ellis grew up on a harbor off the Long Island Sound, and he ended up in Pagosa Springs. He often comes to Moab to perform at The Blu Pig, where he has become a semi-regular at the restaurant-bar after stopping in a few years ago following a Moab triathlon run.
“He comes through two or three times a year,” The Blu Pig owner Jake Tanner said. “He’s really talented, mellow, Americana acoustic. It does well for us for our setting, for the dinner/ lounge scene. We love having him here.”
Ellis, who plays acoustic and a bit of slide guitar, also writes his own songs. How much he performs original versus cover material depends on the audience, he said.
“I look at myself as more of an interpreter of songs,” he said.
His third CD, “After the Rain,” was released last year and is comprised of half original material, he said.
Ellis performs regularly around the Four Corners area, including weekly gigs in Pagosa Springs, where he entertains clients at the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen, and residents of a senior center.
He said he’s drawn to the blues for a lot of reasons, including its history during the Civil Rights movement. Last year, Ellis furthered his knowledge of the genre by traveling to the Mississippi Delta region, where many blues musicians originated.
“To understand the blues, you have to understand the people and where they came from,” he said.
Ellis often performs Johnson’s “Kind-hearted Woman Blues” and “Cross Road Blues” – a song that was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
“He was so deep, using such an economy of words,” Ellis said. “That’s the stuff I love.”
More recently, Ellis said he has fallen in love with the songs of Townes Van Zandt, so concertgoers can expect to hear a tune from the late Texas songwriter during Ellis’ show.
Ellis also enjoys covering songs by Guy Clark, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Bill Withers, John Prine, Ian Tyson and many others.
There is no cover charge to attend Ellis’ performance, but because the performance is in the bar section of The Blu Pig, attendees must be 21 or older.
Singer-songwriter Jack Henry Ellis at The Blu Pig on April 22-23
“He’s really talented, mellow, Americana acoustic. It does well for us for our setting.”
Where: The Blu Pig, 811 S. Main St.
When: Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23, at 7 p.m.
Cost: Free; 21 and over
Information: www.jackellismusic.com; 435-259-3333
For more information, go to www.jackellismusic.com, or call 435-259-3333.