When asked to name a new jazz guitarist worth watching, Ellis offers a choice that maybe should not be so surprising.

"There are a lot of good young players," says Ellis, "and one of them is Clint Straw. He's with Merle Haggard. He plays great. Even though it's country, he plays jazz."
Haggard was greatly influenced by the Texas swing giant Bob Wills, and knows, like Ellis, how well the blues and jazz work in country music.

Ellis, who tours the country alone on most of his guitar gigs, has never been closer to his roots. And, no coincidence, his playing has never been better.

"You can drive out there to this day," Ellis told W. Royal Stokes in The Jazz Scene, "and look at that part of the country and you feel lonesome because it's just lonesome and desolate. I had bluesy, lonesome feelings all my life when I was a kid. At night I'd just sit out on the front porch and hear the harmonica playing in the distance and it would bring tears to my eyes. That feeling, some way, gets into my music. It must, because I feel certain emotions when I play blues.

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