Sharx Records releases the long-anticipated Richard Ellers’ Remnants album. The lyrics and music sizzle with a refreshing blend of acoustic finger picking guitar playing and fine musicianship. Lead guitar, clarinet and saxophone were laid down by the renowned John Girton of Dan Hick’s and the Hot Licks fame. John was the original Hot Lick and has toured extensively as the lead guitar player for Maria Muldar. Drumming on two of the songs: “Caveman Moe” and “Gold Fever” is some of Ron Wilson’s best work. Ron Wilson’s first recording session as a drummer produced the 60’s Surfari’s super hit “Wipe Out”. These tracks are Ron’s last recording session. This is not a retrospective or a revival of discarded tracts, but shows Ellers fine songwriting, singing and playing at its best.
The single “Sunset on the Sea” from that album reached #9 on the FMQB Adult Contemporary chart in summer 2007, being played on radio stations across the country 10,591 times. Four of the songs from that album have been picked up by Hollywood films all to be released on 2009: “Footprints”, “Let the Game Begin”, “The Undying” and “the documentary “Hole in the Head”.
Ellers grew up in Rome, Holland and Saudi Arabia, and circled the globe twice before moving back to the United States during high school. After picking up the ukulele on a family trip to Hawaii, Ellers discovered his voice and later landed the lead role in his high school’s production of The Music Man. He grew more serious about the history of American folk music while studying philosophy at the University of Oregon, and began playing acoustic guitar. After graduation, Ellers moved to San Francisco just in time for the “Summer of Love”, but was rarely seen hanging out on Haight Street or at the Filmore. Instead he built a houseboat in Sausalito, wrote songs, and played Open Mic night at the Drinking Gourd on Union Street. When advised by KSAN-FM underground radio DJ icon Tom Donahue to take a year off to work exclusively on his music, Ellers moved out of the Bay Area into the backwoods of Northern California. In 1971 along with his wife Marcie, he settled into a remote cabin on a small lake outside of Nevada City where they lived without electricity and other distractions.
After a year of solid dedication to his music, Ellers returned to the Bay Area only to discover that his mentor-to-be Donahue had expired from a heart attack, and he retreated once more into the Sierra Nevada foothills. He began promoting local as well as nationally known folk performers, bringing to the area such acts as Utah Phillips, who moved to Nevada City shortly after and never left. He worked with notable musicians Terry Riley and Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson. He even found himself involved with some young rabble rousers called Mötley Crüe, who later went on to become superstars, much to his surprise. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s Ellers maintained his dedication to classic acoustic guitar, eschewing electrified instruments in favor of his dusty old Martin. Ellers enjoyed few musical successes in those decades, as there was little room in the Top 40 for a folkie. One notable exception was the track “American Kid on Arabian Sand,” an anti-war ballad based on his years growing up in Saudi Arabia that received regional airplay and on military stations during the first Gulf War.
Although Ellers has changed his haircut, shaved off the mustache and no longer wears paisley, he still explores and incorporates in his songs the elements of American folk music that captivated his imagination in the 1960’s. As friend and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gary Snyder writes about the album: “[The album] reminds us of the primary ancient role of song and poetry, to speak to love, impermanence, joy and sorrow, and inevitable change.”