In Europe her music is called Nashville and in Canada it is most commonly known as country, but whatever it gets defined as Lindsay Ell has embarked upon one of her most exciting career opportunities.
The Calgarian is the supporting act on one of the hottest groups in country music right now, The Band Perry. The We Are Pioneers Tour kicked off on Nov. 8 in Sweden (the North American leg starts in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Thursday) and encompasses 50 dates throughout Europe and North America.
“In Germany they don’t really refer to it as country music and parts of the U.K. as well. I guess they don’t categorize music in genres. They refer to us as Nashville musicians, I guess that means country to them,” said Ell.
The positive reception to the We Are Pioneers tour on the European leg has been overwhelming said Ell.
“They listen to the lyrics so much and just love music. A lot of the venues they would listen to the lyrics so much by the time you get to the second chorus they already memorized it and were singing too,” she said.
While it has all been exciting for Ell, the thought of touring across Canada is just as thrilling. Especially since they are opening the tour in Penticton.
“I haven’t been to Penticton in forever and I am so excited to see it. We use to go camping in Penticton every summer. I’m very much looking forward to it.”
Ell was discovered at 13 by BTO and The Guess Who’s Randy Bachman. Her passion to learn every technique she could absorb on the guitar has served her well.
“Ever since I started playing, people a lot of the time assume that I would just do an acoustic guitar and a few chords. There has been a couple of times I have walked into a country venue with little heels, a dress and carrying a guitar case and they roll their eyes. We start the set and they say ‘oh that is pretty cool.’ I almost love just looking at people’s face when they realize that we are actually doing this thing and we are real musicians,” said Ell.
The artist landed an opening slot with blues icon Buddy Guy and, much to her surprise, he called Ell up on stage to play with him.
“We didn’t know he was going to call me up, so I get my guitar all hooked up and walked onto stage. He turned to me and said ‘Honey we are in G.’ He dragged me onto his carpet and that was the first words he has said to me. Every since he has been such a role model to me. He is such a humble person and when he picks up a guitar he turns into a five year old boy almost. He just has that charisma on his face and it is contagious,” said Ell.
It was her first songwriting trip to Nashville that was the catalyst that brought her early affinity for country full-circle. She has been hard at work on writing and recording an album, with plans to return to the studio to wrap everything up on it.
“When I got here, it was like I was home,” she said. “I didn’t need to put on a facade of who I was or wasn’t. And I finally fell back into my roots. Coming to Nashville brought me to who I am and who I’m meant to be.”
Ell has spent a decade learning about the music industry and something that was in her blood since she was little.
Her single, Trippin On Us, debuted as the No.1 most added artist at country radio in December 2013. It was written with Ell’s friends Vicky McGehee and David Fanning and features a catchy hook with melodic guitar riffs.
“My dad will tell you that when I was little, the car radio had to be on the country station,” she explained. “If my older brother touched the dial, I would beg him to turn it back. It got to the point that if they were listening to something else, all I had to do was get in the car and they’d automatically flip over to country.”
A family with deep musical roots helped her develop a passion for music which started with her playing piano and guitar at a young age. As her musical talents grew, Ell also excelled academically. She graduated high school a year early and went right into the University of Calgary taking business.
“After a year and half, I decided I needed to do music. It is in my blood, is my calling and is my passion,” said Ell. “Ever since I haven’t looked back and am the crazy one in the family who decided to be a professional musician and artist. And, it has been amazing.”
Flexing her six-string prowess is just one an accent to her vision as an artist.
“There aren’t a lot of girls who play electric lead guitar and it can be a defining thing,” she said. ” First and foremost, I want people to hear me and understand my voice as a country music recording artist. When they come see me, I’d love it if they were impressed at my guitar and piano playing. But by that point, hopefully they understand the artist behind it all has a lot of different sides to her music.”
Having already completed one portion of the We Are Pioneers tour, which also features supporting act Easton Corbin, Ell still sometimes feels like it is all a dream.
“I totally do. It is crazy and I have had lots of pinch me moments. I feel very fortunate that I get to tour the world and show people how much I love music,” she said. “Thankfully I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing people from getting to work with Randy Bachman in Canada and writing with him for years to my incredible family to then getting to move to Nashville and work with my producer and Stoney Creek Record label it has been amazing.”
Ell is the supporting act for The Band Perry and is performing at the SOEC on Thursday along with Easton Corbin. Tickets for the show are available in person at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC , the Wine Country Visitor Centre, by phone at 1-877-SOEC-TIX or online at www.ValleyFirstTix.com.