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Joe Ely

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ENTERTAINMENT
March 14, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
There are few people so well suited to pull a song out of a recent sequence of surreal events than Texas country rocker Joe Ely. Ely had a one-of-a-kind custom guitar stolen from him 27 years ago, and he recently learned that it had turned up. On Tuesday night at a gig in San Francisco, the instrument was returned to him by Matt Wright of Merced, Calif., who'd bought it at a pawn shop years earlier, discovering later who the rightful owner was....
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ENTERTAINMENT
March 19, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
“Did you hear the latest?” Joe Ely asked backstage Sunday night at Pappy & Harriet's, the colorful restaurant and saloon in Pioneertown, a few minutes before starting his set. The question referred to the surreal series of events he experienced last week while on his string of shows down the California coast, for which he's accompanied by guitarist Jeff Plankenhorn.   While Ely was onstage at Slim's in San Francisco Tuesday night, a fan reunited him with a custom guitar that was stolen from him 27 years ago. Ely said Slim's is about three blocks from where the guitar was originally taken along with other band equipment when he was on tour in 1986.
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NEWS
November 12, 1992 | RANDY LEWIS
Joe Ely blew out of Lubbock with the heat and intensity of a West Texas windstorm. Tougher than the Eagles, hipper than Waylon and Willie, he carved out a niche so distinct that radio ignored him entirely. No matter. MCA has re-released his first four albums on CD, and this, his very first, remains as impressive as it was 15 years ago. Ely's own songs, plus those by pals Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, are marvels of compact, evocative writing.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 14, 2013
A double bill of Joes (one young, one less so) with excellent careers in ramshackle country-folk, Joe Ely and Joe Pug are mainstays of their genre. Ely fronted the cult favorite group the Flatlanders while maintaining a solo gig that's even more spare and resonant; Pug became famous for giving his records away to anyone who asked for them, but has since moved onto wide praise for full lengths such as "The Great Despiser. " The Mint, 6010 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. 8:30 p.m. Sat. themintla.com .
ENTERTAINMENT
February 21, 1996 | JOHN ROOS
When guitarist David Grissom left the Joe Ely Band to join John Mellencamp's band in 1992, Ely tapped Ian Moore to take over the lead-guitar slot. Moore played on Ely's "Love and Danger" album and tour, a gig that gave the then-23-year-old enough confidence to embark on a solo career.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 5, 2006 | Geoff Boucher
TEXAS troubadour Joe Ely grew up staring west to where the train tracks met the horizon, and distant cities promised a life less dusty and flat. As a young man, in 1967, he hopped a freight train in New Mexico that, three days later, brought him to San Bernardino. He found his way to the ocean just in time for the Summer of Love. "I was broke," he recalled wistfully, "and sleeping under the pier in Venice." Twenty years later, Ely was back in L.A. with a major label deal.
NEWS
October 8, 1992 | RANDY LEWIS
This is Ely's first studio album in four years, and his first for a major label in eight (ironically, it's the same major label--MCA--with which he had much-publicized run-ins in the '80s). For anyone who thinks Billy Ray Cyrus is the be-all and end-all of country singers who know how to rock, once you hear Ely crank up the adrenaline, it'll be Billy Ray Who?
ENTERTAINMENT
August 12, 2000 | RANDY LEWIS
Passion may mellow and muscle may wane over time for most, but not for this Texas country-rocker, who plays Thursday at Universal Amphitheatre with Dwight Yoakam. His third live album in as many decades finds him every volt the electrifying performer he's always been. The sense of time and place in the songs--mostly Ely's own recent-vintage material--is as richly palpable as the personalities of his often desperate working-class characters.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 13, 1987 | DUNCAN STRAUSS
The latest phase of Joe Ely's career confirms that you really can't keep a good man--with a good band--down. Hailed by many critics as The Next Big Thing a decade ago, the Texas singer-songwriter failed to live up to those expectations, though largely for reasons beyond his control. The most notable example recently would be toiling on a new album only to have his record company refuse to release it. Ely responded to that blow with great equanimity.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 19, 1987 | DON WALLER
The Roxy stage is probably still smokin' from the paint-blistering 100 minutes that Joe Ely and company played somewhere in the neighborhood of three feet above it Thursday night. Drawing equally from his latest, largely excellent "Lord of the Highway" album and some USDA Choice selections from his catalogue of should-be classics, this was the long-heralded Ely's hardest-rockin' incarnation yet.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 14, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
There are few people so well suited to pull a song out of a recent sequence of surreal events than Texas country rocker Joe Ely. Ely had a one-of-a-kind custom guitar stolen from him 27 years ago, and he recently learned that it had turned up. On Tuesday night at a gig in San Francisco, the instrument was returned to him by Matt Wright of Merced, Calif., who'd bought it at a pawn shop years earlier, discovering later who the rightful owner was....
ENTERTAINMENT
September 29, 2009 | Randy Lewis
Texas singer-songwriter Joe Ely has been in love with trains his whole life. In 1977, he recorded one of the great train songs -- "Boxcars," which his longtime pal Butch Hancock wrote -- laying out exactly what had hooked him over the course of countless rides in open freight cars journeying to and from his hometown of Lubbock. If you ever heard the whistle on a fast freight train Beatin' out a beautiful tune If you ever seen the cold blue railroad tracks Shinin' by the light of the moon If you ever felt a locomotive shake the ground I know you don't have to be told Why I'm going down to the railroad tracks And watch them lonesome boxcars roll "My grandfather worked the Rock Island line, and my father worked on the Santa Fe line," Ely, 62, said Sunday night following his performance at Burt's Tiki Lounge, about two blocks from the Albuquerque train station.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 27, 2008 | Randy Lewis, Lewis is a Times staff writer.
Walt Disney Concert Hall just might be on to a great little niche-concert series. A few more shows like the intimate and illuminating performance Vince Gill turned in on Saturday and the venue could develop a regular spate of shows that might be called "Where Songs Come From." His 90-minute show, for which he brought a no-frills trio for accompaniment, was chock-full of crowd-pleasers -- no surprise, since fans were only too happy to take him up on his offer to play their favorites, shouting out titles throughout the evening.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 5, 2006 | Geoff Boucher
TEXAS troubadour Joe Ely grew up staring west to where the train tracks met the horizon, and distant cities promised a life less dusty and flat. As a young man, in 1967, he hopped a freight train in New Mexico that, three days later, brought him to San Bernardino. He found his way to the ocean just in time for the Summer of Love. "I was broke," he recalled wistfully, "and sleeping under the pier in Venice." Twenty years later, Ely was back in L.A. with a major label deal.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 25, 2001 | RANDY LEWIS, TIMES STAFF WRITER
If the fabled West Texas band the Flatlanders made a list of reasons to reconvene almost 30 years after recording its only album, cashing in on past fortunes surely wouldn't be on it. "Yes, here comes the payoff gig," jokes Butch Hancock, 55, whose friendship with fellow Lubbock singer-songwriters Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely turned into the musical collaboration that became the Flatlanders.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 12, 2000 | RANDY LEWIS
Passion may mellow and muscle may wane over time for most, but not for this Texas country-rocker, who plays Thursday at Universal Amphitheatre with Dwight Yoakam. His third live album in as many decades finds him every volt the electrifying performer he's always been. The sense of time and place in the songs--mostly Ely's own recent-vintage material--is as richly palpable as the personalities of his often desperate working-class characters.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 8, 1988 | CHRIS WILLMAN
Texas-based roots-rocker Joe Ely spent a lot of time tuning his wayward acoustic guitar during a sold-out solo show Friday night at McCabe's. "Boy, in a place like this, you really hear it," he explained. "I've been out for three months with a loud rock 'n' roll band, and if something's out of tune in a band, you just turn it up." A few hours later, Ely got to turn it up instead of tune up.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 23, 1995 | JOHN ROOS, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Throughout his restless life, Texas troubadour Joe Ely has relished being on the open road and changing directions on little more than a whim. He has hopped freights, hitched rides, worked in the circus and even sung for his supper. His inquisitive nature, wandering spirit and impulsiveness inform his music with a streetwise sense of reality. His latest release, "Letter to Laredo," is a prime example.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 22, 1998 | JOHN ROOS, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Joe Ely hates feeling boxed in. In younger days, he hopped freights, hitched rides and even worked in the circus. That urge to break through borders has remained a part of Ely and his roots-driven music for nearly 25 years. So it seems only fitting that even while on the road in support of his new "Twistin' in the Wind" LP, the Texas troubadour insists on an escape hatch. En route to San Francisco last week, Ely and his entourage spent 15 hours driving across the desert.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 21, 1996 | JOHN ROOS
When guitarist David Grissom left the Joe Ely Band to join John Mellencamp's band in 1992, Ely tapped Ian Moore to take over the lead-guitar slot. Moore played on Ely's "Love and Danger" album and tour, a gig that gave the then-23-year-old enough confidence to embark on a solo career.
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