Arts & Entertainment
One gas station at a time
Singer-songwriter Ellis heads to Ann Arbor
By Chris Azzopardi
Originally printed 3/2/2006 (Issue 1409 - Between The Lines News)
ANN ARBOR - Musician Ellis Bergeron isn't hesitant to admit she belts out Dolly Parton cruising down the highway in her Dodge Grand Caravan. "I definitely do that quite a bit," says 29-year-old singer-songwriter.
But Ellis, who has toured extensively over the last 10 months, needs to do something to keep her sane when traveling from city to city. Driving, in fact, remains her least favorite part of touring, but "it's a means to the end," she says.
Listening to folk artist Patty Griffin ("From the moment she starts singing, I could just cry") and Joni Mitchell, focusing on introspection and visiting gas stations around the country help pass the time.
"It's a wonderful gift to tour the country, to make friends all over the country and potentially all over the world," she says. "I just feel really fortunate to be able to do what I'm doing." Ellis has never been to Ann Arbor, where she'll play The Ark for the first time, but she's played gigs in Lansing and Ferndale.
Although quite different from performing with the rock band she joined during her junior year in high school, playing solo provides her an intimate and more conversational atmosphere. "Of course, I'm the only one talking," she says, laughing.
Ellis describes her music as "lyrically driven, energetic, smart folk with a little bit of rock." With five self-released albums (the sixth is out this year) under her belt, Ellis wasn't sure how to approach her last record. "I was kind of dragging my feet [about doing another album]," Ellis says. "I knew that fans wanted another album and I knew it was the next step for me."
Ellis began penning lyrics at age 12. "I fell in love with the process of expressing myself through poetry and melody," she says. As time went by, she had plenty to talk about, including her blossoming sexuality. She had her first girlfriend in high school, but she wasn't out. "No one else knew about it," she says.
When she realized in college, "Oh my gosh, this is totally who I am," she came out.
"It's important for me to be out and not make a big deal out of it," she says. "It's important for me to be visible because it's been important for me in the past to know other artists that are."
And visible she is. With critical acclaim from Curve and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Ellis seems to be riding the right wave. "Whenever you find the thing you're supposed to do, the doors open for you and you just naturally move in that direction," she says.Ellis will play The Ark in Ann Arbor on Tues. March 7. For more information visit www.a2ark.org. For more info about Ellis visit http://ellis-music.com.