- Play "Free Bird"! Blues rocker Tinsley Ellis heads South on his new CD.
Appropriately, guitarslinger Tinsley Ellis is playing tougher on his latest album, The Hard Way. "It's pretty close to southern rock," laughs the 47-year-old Atlantan. "It's guitar-driven blues rock. And if it's not blues, hopefully, it comes out sounding soulful." The southern-fried blues-rocker -- who is inspired by the British version of the music, as laid down in the '60s by white guys like Eric Clapton and Peter Green -- credits much of the album's furious sound to his stage set. "The music on the CDs pretty much mirrors the live shows," he explains. "The global roadhouse circuit dictates that you play not just one style of music. People want to hear more rockin' stuff, acoustic stuff, traditional blues, blues-rock. It's a potpourri -- to use a word that isn't very bluesy -- of styles." Ellis is at Wilbert's (812 Huron Road) at 9:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $10 (in advance) and $12, available by calling 216-902-4663. -- Michael Gallucci
Someday, Brionna Brooks will make the change from man to woman -- just as soon as she gets the drag-queen beauty-pageant bug out of her system. "If you don't have your piece, you can't compete," sighs Brooks. Next month, the 28-year-old impersonator will vie for the Miss USofA-at-Large crown in Dallas. For a primer, Brooks represented Ohio in the Miss USA Continental pageant Labor Day weekend in Chicago. "You would never know that [the contestants] were men," says Brooks. "I'm not going to lie to you. Next to these women, I was a boy in a dress." Not if she has the sex-change operation. "If I go out as a boy, I feel people staring at me, like, What is that?' If I'm dressed like a girl, I just walk past, and nobody says anything." Brooks performs at 11:30 p.m. Sunday at Bounce, 2814 Detroit Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-357-2997. -- Cris Glaser
Crawling Out of the Blues
After bluesman Mr. Downchild broke up his group in 2000, bassist Chris Stovicek wouldn't have guessed a 16-year-old power-pop guitarist would motivate him to form another band. "I was sitting on my back patio, kinda chillin', and I heard this kid play some blues, and I said, My God, sounds pretty good,'" says Madison Crawl founder Stovicek, who immediately invited Coffinberry's Nick Cross into the living room of his Lakewood apartment. "We started jammin' a little bit, and I went, That's pretty cool.' He knew every lick in the book." The band performs at 9 p.m. Wednesday at Smedley's, 17004 Lorain Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-941-0124. -- Cris Glaser