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Tony Ellis

"When I was growing up...my grandmother played the banjo.  And...back in that day and time, women had learned to play the banjo as a parlor instrument...my grandmother enjoyed that but, she also enjoyed the mountain tunes like Cripple Creek and John Henry and Pretty Little Girl with the Red Dress on and some of the...the more traditional mountain tunes. So...instead of getting’ a bedtime story, I would say granny get your banjo and she would bring the banjo into my bedroom and play a tune or two until I dozed off to sleep. So I had...bedtime banjo music instead of bedtime story quite often."

Born in North Carolina, Tony Ellis is an inspirational and accomplished banjo player known throughout the United States and abroad. He has toured internationally, performing in Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. In his music, Ellis blends old mountain tunings with a modern bluegrass picking style. He is known for innovative techniques like performing alongside non-traditional bluegrass instruments. This style has been called "Americana" as it represents early elements of Appalachian musical culture that have survived into the present day. Ellis has also composed over 80 original pieces while performing with various bluegrass bands. He performed with legendary singer and father of bluegrass music Bill Munroe's Bluegrass Boys for several years. Ellis has a strong, longstanding connection to Pickaway County in Southern Ohio. Here, he has supported traditional arts by partnering with grassroots organizations and the Ohio Arts Council.

Interview with Tony Ellis in Banjo Newsletter

Tony Ellis's Traditions episode.

Contents of the Collection

  • Images of Ellis playing with the Dave Verny Band
  • Album covers of Farewell My Home and Sounds Like Bluegrass To Me
  • Sheet music for "Ohio Waltz"
  • Interviews with live performance