Having worked in various Melbourne acts since 1989, Rory started his solo acoustic journey in 1998, working in bars and festivals around Australia. Some include Port Fairy Folk Festival, Apollo Bay Music Festival, The National Folk Festival, Blue Mountains Blues and Roots, Queenscliff Music Festival and Tamworth Country Music Festival where Rory has performed as part of the Fender Roadcases show alongside Troy Cassar Daley, The McLymonts, Tommy Emmanuel, Gina Jeffreys and countless other country stars.
The incredible response to his live show prompted the release of his first solo album Ride in 2000. It was released to much critical acclaim, a huge spread by Iian Sheddon in The Australian and was lovingly produced by Dave Steel, (ex Weddings Parties Anything, Archie Roach, Kasey Chambers). Lyall Johnson of the Melbourne Age said, “If you’re not deeply moved by this superb debut by Melbourne singer-songwriter Rory Ellis, it’s doubtful you’re human.”
Since that release Rory has gone from strength to strength and It was in 2004 Rory decided to head overseas to England and he has toured there every year since, anywhere from 3-9 months each tour. A real troubadour doing it on floors, couches, shoestrings and human kindness to make it work and deliver his piece of real life Australia, not what they saw on Neighbours.
Whilst in England and more recently Europe his travels have seen him perform alongside many greats including Richie Havens, Robert Cray, Canned Heat, Eric Bibb and has performed at many of the largest UK Blues and Roots Festivals including Great British R&B Festival, Shetland Folk Festival, Larmer Tree Festival, Stokes Bay Festival, Maryport Blues Festival, Eastleigh Festival, Linton Festival, Worthenbury Festival, Midlewich Festival, Chagstock, and countless others, with revisits due to popular demand.
Rory released The Rushes in 2005, where Jeff Glorfeld of the Melbourne Age said, “When the big fella opens up his chest and lets fly with that lusty, rumbling voice, even then it’s as if he’s pulling back on the reins in fear of what might happen to innocent bystanders – it’s that potent.”
To accompany this extensive touring, Rory continued his prolific amount of songwriting and recording leading to the release of his 4th (Two Feathers – 2008), 5th (Perfectly Damaged – 2010) and 6th (Twisted Willow – 2012) studio albums. Each of these releases garnering Rory more fans and more critical acclaim.
Brett Callwood of UK’s major roots publication Acoustic magazine said “Rory Ellis is one of those singer/songwriters, like Leonard Cohen, who makes the hairs on your arms stand up by simply opening his mouth and uttering a few throaty words.” Twisted Willow, received a 4 star review in the Melbourne Age, with Jeff Glorgeld saying, “Ellis’ songs are full of keen impressions and feelings, sung in a voicethat is always true and expressive.”
Followed up by more intense touring here and abroad in 2013 and 2014, and a 3 month UK stint at the end of 2014 and into 2015, early 2015 saw the release of Yellow, a dedication of 15 brilliantly crafted songs to the life of his mum. Something that will resonate with everyone. Sam Fell of Rhythms Magazine stated of this “Rarely does someone put such truth and honesty into their music.”
The later half of the year has seen Rory stay in Australia to focus on putting together a new collection of songs that explores the darker side of country. This time and space to write has resulted in some of Rory’s strongest material to date. 2016 will see a new exciting chapter for this incredible artist.