Billy Eli

Billy Eli

BandAmericanaSinger/Songwriter

Americana originals with influences from classic rock, California country, and old-style honky-tonk.

Biography

Billy Eli plays country that rocks and rock that’s country, delivering songs that are vivid slices of real life lived to the fullest and chased down with a stiff shot of whiskey. With a style that’s rooted in his small town Southeast Texas origins that transcends the Lone Star State to achieve an international reach, the Austin, TX-based singer and songwriter has been compared by critics to such stellar American music artists as Tom Petty, Steve Earle, John Prine and John Mellencamp, to name a few. And like them, Eli’s music bears an indelible trademark that’s all his own, nimbly riding the fulcrum where rock and country converge, and singing with fervent heart and soul about the range of human experience from sin to salvation.

The Ithaca Journal in 2007 called Eli a “recent addition” to the blue ribbon roster of notable Texas singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely and Willie Nelson. His talents as a entertainer and storyteller in song have been honed to razor sharpness over decades of gigs, first in the honky-tonks and barrooms of Southeast Texas, and then later in his Austin home base as well as clubs throughout the American West, Southeast and in and around the city of Ithaca in Upstate New York, which has become Eli’s second musical hometown.

As Americana-uk.com notes, “In a whiskey-soaked, honky-tonk drawl, Eli tells us tales of eating cheese enchiladas whilst doomsday beckons, gambling a life away on the slots of El Paso, how much whiskey mends a broken heart, and the simple idea that as long as you have a barmaid who is willing to sell you beer, what else matters?” Or as the San Antonio Express-News puts it more succinctly, Eli is “the real deal.”

Up until now, even for all the praise, Eli has been one of those “best-kept musical secrets” that Austin’s vibrant music scene is famous for. But with [Title TK], his fourth album, that’s now all about to change. It was produced by Patrick Conway (whose credits include recording work with Chrissie Hynde, Chuck Prophet, Jerry Harrison, Jim Campilongo and I See Hawks In LA, among others, as well as being a talented musical artist in his own right), and recorded in Trumansburg, NY and then polished to a fine finish in Austin with some of the finest players from the heart of New York State and the capital of Texas.

[Title TK] opens with a muscular one-two punch: the populist anthem “People Like Us” that rocks out the country with nationwide appeal, and then the Lone Star State sounds of “Spook Lights of Marfa.” Eli proudly shows his Texas pride as he serves up a tasty plate of “Cheese Enchiladas,” and summons up the spirit of a rowdy and rocking night of big fun at your favorite bar on such fiery numbers as “Down on the Border,” “High Flyer,” “Tore Down in Texas” and “Spur That Pony.” He takes listeners for a ride on the road where he’s spent a good part of his years on “White Lines and Passing Lanes,” reminds of American music icon Johnny Cash with the Tex-Mex horns of “Try Looking At Me,” and gets down to the essence of love and heartache on “I Won’t Be Waiting” and “Way Up Lonesome.” All told, [Title TK] draws its strength from the best roots music traditions and then gives them a smart update to create country-rock that’s custom made for the 21st Century we live in.

Eli creates tales of such compelling true life resonance thanks in part to growing up in modest circumstances in the rural town of Livingston, Texas within the rolling hills and piney woods of East Texas some 55 miles north of Houston. It’s a small town where the options for work are laboring on oil and gas pipelines or at the local sawmill and feed store. His family may have been poor, but their home was rich in music. “We always had a record player and lots of records,” Eli recalls.

His father was a fan of such Sun Records pioneers as Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, while his mother favored country crooners like Ray Price and Conway Twitty. Uncles and aunts close to his age hipped Eli to the rock, pop and soul sounds of the 1960s. He later was also drawn to the California country-rock of the early 1970s. “All I ever wanted to do was play in Poco or with [steel guitarist] Sneaky Pete in the Flying Burrito Brothers or with those musicians who were doing that old-time country style with a rock energy,” Eli says with a chuckle.

He got a drum kit when he was 12, but “banged on it and put a bunch of holes in it and never really got to where I could play it.” During the summer after his high school graduation, Eli was doing pipeline work in North Dakota when a guitar-playing friend at a party asked him to sing along. Impressed with what he heard from Eli, his friend insisted that they get Billy a guitar so he could teach him how to play.

On arriving back in Livingston, he started fronting “beer joint bands,” as he calls them. “When I found out I could get paid for this rather than work a real job, that was it,” Eli says. He

Lyrics

People Like Us

Written By: Billy Eli

People Like Us
- Billy Eli

Well, baby, I know, it can be a real drag
And it brings me down to see you looking so sad
And I know sometimes it gets to you
That we don’t live like the rest of the world does
But the world wasn’t built for people like us

Well people like us don’t ever seem to count
We don’t make the wheels go around
We got dreams we just won’t leave to die in the dust
And the world wasn’t built for people like us

Well sometimes it seems like this never goes anywhere
And I hope you don’t think that we’re not ever gonna get there
I know sometimes it gets to you that we don’t live like the rest of the world does
But the world wasn’t built for people like us

Well people like us don’t ever seem to count
We don’t make the wheels go around
We got dreams we just won’t leave to die in the dust
And the world wasn’t built for people like us

The world wasn’t built for people like us
The world wasn’t built for people like us
World wasn’t built for people like us
World wasn’t built for people like us
World wasn’t built for people like us
World wasn’t built for people like us
World wasn’t built for people like us
World wasn’t built for people like us

Discography

Something's Going On, 1995
Trailer Park Angel, 2001
Amped Out, 2006
People Like Us, coming in 2009

Set List

Typical show includes two sets of originals.

Additional sets of covers can be added. Covers include :
MERCURY BLUES
MENDOCINO
TO LOVE SOMEBODY
JUST MY IMAGINATION
SHE’S ABOUT A MOVER
IS ANYBODY GOIN TO SAN ANTONE
WILD HORSES
DO YOU KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO BE LONESOME
DEAD FLOWERS
ABSOLUTELY SWEET MARIE
SOLITARY MAN
TOO MUCH FUN
GEORGIA ON A FAST TRAIN
WHITE FREIGHTLINER BLUES
WE’LL SWEEP OUT THE ASHES IN THE MORNING
JACK DANIELS IF YOU PLEASE
SIN CITY
LATELY I’VE BEEN THINKING TOO MUCH LATELY
INDIANAPOLIS
HONKY TONK BLUES