Ellis Bullard

Show Review: Ellis Bullard at Continental Club

Show Reviews

Ellis Bullard at Continental Club, Austin, TX 2.10.23

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The line ran south bound Congress Street come 9pm when the doors opened for Ellis Bullard’s debut headline event at the infamous Continental Club in Austin, TX this past Friday. Rumors have it that Bullard was advised against booking that venue for his first-time head lining because people wouldn’t come. Ellis said, “F- that” and booked it anyways. And wouldn’t you know it, in true outlaw honky tonk fashion, they sold the place out. It was so packed in there I could barely maneuver around for photos. Not to mention the heat being generated in that space could have sunk a good sized iceberg.

The show openers were the Velvet Saddles. Like many of the show openers I get to see now a days, I never heard of them before this show but they left a lasting impression. It’ll be interesting to see where those fellas wind up. “Neon Cowboy,” “Two-step into Midnight” and “Strange Days” were a few songs that rang out to me the most. Be sure to go see the guys if you get the chance.

Ellis Bullard and his band of honkytonk heroes took the stage around 10pm. Sam Norris got comfortable behind his steel guitar, Cole Beddingfield strapped on his big black bass, with Kyle Ponder on the drums, and shredder Austin Roach on lead guitar.

The first song out of the chute was “Biloxi By Two.” As soon as the guitars started strumming and the bass kicked in, the crowd went nuts. An obvious fan favorite got everyone jumping and thirsty for more. “Chasing Numbers” followed with what I predict will be one of the most recognizable opening riffs you’ll ever hear. Just a few chords were able to escape the PA system before the audience went crazy as longtime fans knew what was coming. “I was headed out west just a carrying on. Shake this monkey off my back, he’s still holding on.” This song gave everyone a good dose of steel guitar as Sam sat there ice-cold calm melting faces without effort.

If you thought Bullard and bunch were some one album wonders, “Lucky Me, Lucky You, My Unlucky Ways,” “Prison In My Mind,” “Happy Sad,” and “What’s a Man To Do” were a run of brand new songs that added even more flavor to their already existing repertoire of soon to be hits. I know I am anxiously awaiting these tracks to hit the studio so I can hear them again!

“Tulsa Time” has already been a long-time favorite song of mine so the first time I heard Ellis perform it, I was ecstatic. His musical style accompanied by his attire and super rare sounding voice really rewrites this Don Williams hit song from 1978. Given the history of the song being written by Danny Flowers and fought over by Eric Clapton and Williams, it’s kind of nice to see someone as deserving as Bullard come in, scoop it up and run with it. He really does the song justice and brings it back to life and adds some proper “Tonk” to it. Something I don’t believe Williams or Clapton were capable of.

“I’m On Fire” is another “grab and go” cover that Bullard and bunch reworked to fit their style of play. It’s truly a honk tonk country song now because once you hear Ellis sing it you won’t hear it any other way. “Honkytonk Ain’t Noise Pollution,” “Corona/Patron,” an instrumental cover of “The Minutemen” and “Since You Been Gone” was another run of new songs and covers that just seem to melt together in a pot of flavor that you’ll only be hooked on once you get a taste. “Stubborn Man” from their 2022 Piss-Hot Freightlining Country Music album reminded everyone just who Bullard is. “Don’t know why, I am the way I am. All my life I’ve been a stubborn man.”

For good measure, they tossed in “Never Could Toe the Mark,” a Waylon Jennings tune before performing “Roller Coaster,” “Back To My Roots,” and “Rock Bottom Again” were a few of the fan favorites that came near the end of the show. The guys were sweating and the place was sweltering hot as girls were jumping on the stage with excitement and in complete disregard to a band playing.

They closed out with fast paced “Highway 40 Blues” and “Guitars, Cadillacs and Hillbilly Music” which are covers that now belong to Bullard. I know they didn’t write them but after hearing any song performed by these guys, you won’t ever hear them any other way. Nor would you want to ….

I couldn’t believe how many people were in that place. If you’ve ever been to the Continental Club, you’d know it barely holds 200 people and they don’t have a secluded green room for the artists. Just an area behind the stage where a pool table and back bar reside. The folks who arrived late either listened from the sidewalk out front or listened from the back bar area behind the stage. When I say the entire place was packed, I mean it. I am surprised the Fire Marshall didn’t show up for being over capacity. The only open area was the area where the guys had their gear cases stored for the show and I am not exaggerating.

After a 12-to-13-year climb through the depths of the Nashvilled-out country music scene, it’s very exciting to see someone like Ellis and his band mates get some real life true traction with his movement. They are truly a good group of guys that work hard to do what they love. And country music is and has been headed down a path that resembles pop music more than country music for a while so it is absolutely refreshing to know someone like Ellis Bullard is out there fighting the good fight and keeping country music the way it should be.

I don’t know about you but I prefer steel guitars, ripping guitar and bass solos with heart wrenching lyrics over 808s in my country music any day.

Find tour dates and more info here: https://www.ellisbullard.com

Set List
Biloxi by Two
Chasing Numbers
Lucky Me, Lucky You, My Unlucky Ways
Prison In My Mind
Happy Sad
What’s a Man To Do
Tulsa Time
I’m On Fire
Honky Tonk Ain’t Noise Pollution
Corona/Patron (instrumental cover of The Minute Men)
Since You Been Gone, I’ve Been Doin’ Wrong
Stubborn Man
Gina Walker
Shotgun Willie
Never Could Toe the Mark
Roller Coaster
Back To My Roots
Rock Bottom Again
Highway 40 Blues
Guitars Cadillacs and Hillbilly Music

Get more info at http://www.ellisbullard.com and follow these guys on Instagram
Ellis Bullard @ellisbullardmusic
Cole Beddingfield @fathead51
Sam Norris @sandpaper.sam
Austin Roach @thatckaustinroach
Kyle Ponder @thedamnkayl

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