Local singer-songwriter Lindsay Ell gets a little help from big-name friends
Calgarian singer-songwriter Lindsay Ell has had a run of good luck that any budding musician would envy. Her first “big break” arrived when her demo EP made its way into the hands of Canadian music legend Randy Bachman of The Guess Who. Impressed by her silky smooth vocals and equally fluid guitar technique, Bachman contacted Ell, who was then only 15, and offered to produce her next album. Another milestone in Ell’s career came courtesy of blues giant Buddy Guy. He asked the blonde teenager with the stunning smile to join him onstage after he watched her play as his opening act.
“The past couple of years have been absolutely great,” affirms the now 19-year-old Ell. “I’ve been able to meet and work with some wonderful people, and I’m just so excited that my album is finally finished. I took advantage of a program offered by Rawlco Radio that uses government funds to help a lot of bands and artists get started on projects by giving them a chunk of cash to produce acoustic albums. It was a really good learning experience for me to step away from the full-band, full-production style of recording I did with Randy and to focus on the essence of the songs themselves.”
Eagerly poised to release her second solo endeavour, the appropriately titled Alone , Ell is more comfortable than ever presenting herself as a leading lady onstage. Hoisting her Gibson guitar and backed by a standup bassist and percussionist, the burgeoning blueswoman, who has been writing songs since the age of 10, displays a combination of youthful charm and seasoned talent. It’s a blend that promises to vault her into the company of musical “It girls” like Jenny Lewis, along with guitarists extraordinaire such as Rachelle Van Zanten and Ellen McElwaine .
Her goals now clearly in sight, Ell is more determined than ever to succeed as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. Furthermore, she’s willing to put in the sweat that goes with the territory. “The choice to devote myself to being a full-time musician has been hard for my family,” she says, “because they’ve always placed a lot of emphasis on education. I graduated from my high school a year early and was valedictorian. When I entered the business program at University of Calgary, I realized that my heart just wasn’t in it. I made the conscious decision to put 100 per cent of my effort into being a musician. It’s like they say — ‘Go high, or go home.’ I decided to aim high.”