(For a sidebar on Ellis Kell's efforts in music education and community programming, click here.)
What can you say about Ellis Kell? Better question: What can you not?
He's the director of programming and community outreach for Davenport's River Music Experience, and barring a six-month 2006-7 hiatus, has been employed by the venue since November 2003 - seven months before it opened its doors to the public.
He's an area legend among blues and roots musicians and fans - a 35-year veteran of solo and ensemble gigs who's an accomplished singer/songwriter, guitarist, and pianist (if, as he admits, maybe not the best trumpet player).
He's spent a remarkable quarter-century serving as bandleader and performer for The Ellis Kell Band, which has shared stages with, and opened for, the likes of Robert Cray, REO Speedwagon, Willie Nelson, Etta James, Little Feat, Johnny and Edgar Winter, and B.B. King - the latter of whom hugged Kell, on stage, during a 2008 Adler Theatre concert. (The Ellis Kell Band will celebrate its 25-year venerability and versatility in a February 6 concert at the River Music Experience's Redstone Room.)
And he is, by common agreement, one of the most engaging, and engaged, storytellers you'll ever hope to encounter, whether speaking at the RME or appearing in a special event at an area library ... or just sitting at a table, quietly recounting stories for an audience of one.
So why say anything about Ellis Kell when, in describing his road to local iconography, he can do it for me?