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Texan genre-buster Joe Ely

Joe Ely's blend of rock, country, blues and folk is sometimes called "roadhouse music," but it may be more accurate to call it "Texas music," steeped in the heart of the Lone Star State. "I grew up on the dusty plains of Texas," Ely says. "A lot of my songs start at the cotton farms. I think most songwriters are influenced by the places they grew up."

Ely, hailed a pioneer of alt-country, will play tunes that are "too rock for country and too country for rock" at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass.

Touring light, Ely will be joined Saturday by slide guitarist Jeff Planckenhorn.

"I'm working on some new songs," Ely says. "Whenever I do that, I like to strip things down. It gives me the freedom to change things. With the band — once they've learned a song — it's more or less set in stone."

He'll also play songs from his newest album, "Satisfied at Last," released this year on his own Rack 'Em Records label. "Satisfied" was recorded at Ely's own Spur Studio near Austin, Texas, and at Mike Morgan's The Zone Recording Studio in Dripping Springs, a few miles from Ely's home.

"A lot of recording artists around Texas have been flocking there," Ely says. "They like the sounds that come out of that studio."

The album features guitarists Ely's played with over the course of his recording career. There's David Holt, Mitch Watkins, Rob Gjersoe, along with bass player Jimmy Pettit, drummer Pat Manske and steel guitarist Lloyd Maines.

Ely also will play new songs from his work with country-rock band The Flatlanders, featuring Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock.

The Flatlanders first formed in the early '70s in Lubbock, Texas. As its three members later found success as solo artists, interest in the band renewed, and it has reformed several times.

"We make a record about every four or five years and go out on the road to tour together," Ely say. "Mainly because we're good friends and like to play together."

The Flatlanders' newest recording is "Hills and Valleys," released in 2009 on New West Records. The group played in early October at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

"I seldom write songs collaboratively with anyone else," Ely says. "But when the three of us get together, it is a real treat. "We have a lot of subject matter and experiences between us. It's almost like making a stew."

One of the songs from "Satisfied at Last," called "You Can Bet I'm Gone," is about a man who left his friends a will asking them to cremate his remains and put his ashes into shotgun shells. Then they could shoot skeet — his favorite thing in life — with the shells on a windy day in his hometown.

Ely left his home in Lubbock when he was 16 to look for songs outside of himself. He says he realized later that songs come from the inside.

"Though I looked for plenty of them on the outside," Ely says.

After roaming for a few years, Ely returned to Texas, formed a band and headed to Nashville, Tenn., to release his first, self-titled album in 1977. The next year, Ely's band played London, where he met Joe Strummer and punk-rock group The Clash. The two bands later toured together, making appearances in Ely's hometown. Ely sang backup vocals on The Clash single "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

Tickets cost $20 for the show at the Rogue Theatre. Call 541-471-1316 or see www.roguetheatre.com.

Joe Ely rocked hard in the '80s and '90s with band mates Jesse Taylor and David Grissom. His new album, 'Satisfied At Last,' shows Ely has morphed from rocker to storyteller. - Photo courtesy of LCMedia