Julie Ellison: Biography
In the words of one reviewer:
"Julie is not just ‘good for a girl’, she is a true guitarist's guitar player".
Her music draws from ragtime, country blues, rock and classical influences to create a diverse range of
original songs and guitar instrumentals, interwoven with inventive re-workings of classical pieces and
Julie has written for 'Acoustic' magazine; has featured widely in press coverage from both specialist music magazines and mainstream publications;
has had many live performances broadcast on BBC radio; has appeared on Yorkshire TV’s magazine programme 'Calendar' and is an official endorsee for Rotosound guitar strings.
She has given concert performances at arts centres, theatres, guitar festivals and music festivals across the UK.
Julie's early years
Born and brought up in Kent, Julie started learning guitar when she was 9 years old and made
her first public performance at the age of 11. She joined her first band when she was 13, began
writing her own songs and had her first offer of a recording contract by the time she was 15.
Marriage meant a move to Portsmouth (Hampshire, UK), where she started playing
rhythm guitar in a jazz trio and later took up bass guitar and developed an interest in improvisation.
A job as bass player in country band gave Julie her first real taste of life as a full time, professional,
touring musician, undertaking national tours on the UK country music circuit.
After a divorce and a move to Yorkshire, Julie continued to perform as a solo artist and in a variety of duos, trios and bands
as a guitarist, singer songwriter and bass player with musical styles ranging from acoustic to rock music.
She also got involved with theatrical productions, touring with a three-woman theatre company,
for which she also wrote all the music and many of the sketches. Largely performing political humour,
this little company toured all over the UK.
Over time, Julie became very busy teaching guitar to a large number of students, running music workshops and performing at small venues around Yorkshire. An appearance at a music festival in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, in 2002 lead to a new partnership, in life and record label, with John Robinson who eventually became Julie's manager and sound engineer.
John, along with other close friends, began to encourage her to perform more often, and more widely, as a solo artist.
Return to touring
By the end of 2003 Julie had established the core of what was to become a regular tour schedule at small acoustic music venues stretching from Northern England to the South Coast.
Concert venues began to appear on the schedule, including an appearance at Arundel Festival Fringe.
In October 2003, Julie got a call from the organisers of a festival at Gainsborough's Trinity Arts Centre to replace an artist who had been unable to appear at the festival. This was a turning point. The hugely positive reaction from the sell out crowd, and advice from an experienced music manager at the event, resulted in a decision to focus more on concert performances and the creation of a record label, Acoustyistics, to handle all aspects of
Julie's career as a writer and professional, touring performer.
Julie's first solo CD, "At Last", was released in June 2004. Featuring songs and guitar instrumentals recorded between April 1998 and January 2004, the 12-track CD brought together three tracks recorded by John Robinson, two recorded at home and one at a Sheffield studio, with nine tracks recorded at Badge Studios by Keith Angel, an engineer and musician well known for this work with the Angel Brothers, Martin Simpson, John Tams and Kate Rusby.
Busy touring schedule
Extensive touring in 2004, 2005 and 2006 saw Julie establish herself on the UK acoustic music scene, with widespread media coverage, regular live performances on BBC radio and a tour schedule which identified her as one of the hardest working musicians on the circuit.
At the peak, Julie was making over 150 performances a year. This was a "play anywhere" approach which often took Julie to challenging venues, winning over audiences from intimate acoustic clubs to rock festival crowds.
There are many highlights from this period:
Customs House International Guitar Festival
In July 2004, Julie appeared as a guest of Ralph McTell at the Customs House International Guitar Festival. After the performance Ralph wrote "Julie is a terrific guitar player and she also writes great songs. She shared the stage with me at the South Shields guitar festival and the discerning audience loved her. She stormed it!". One year later the festival booked Julie for her own concert, appearing as a headline performer alongside Martin Taylor, Martin Simpson and Dominic Miller (Sting's guitarist).
The Mermaid & 'Acoustic' magazine
In June 2005, Andy Manson invited Julie to give his unique Mermaid guitar sculpture it's World Premiere public performance at Exeter's Pheonix Arts Centre.
In the audience was 'Acoustic' magazine editor Steve Harvey, who published a very positive review of the concert in the next issue of the magazine. This was the start of a long relationship with the magazine, with Julie becoming a contributor with a popular and inspirational column which was voted one of the most popular magazine features in a readers poll.
In 2007, Julie undertook a national tour on behalf of 'Acoustic' magazine, with performances and interviews on BBC local radio promoting in-store performances and guitar workshops in the 'Borders' book store chain.
Concert performances gradually took over from the acoustic clubs and, in 2008, Julie completed her first national tour of UK Arts Centres.
Julie became an official Rotosound endorsee in 2007, featuring in adverts for Rotosound acoustic guitar strings and representing the company at acoustic guitar shows.
With her second CD well overdue, she took a break from touring in 2009 to complete the set up of a home-based studio.
Unfortunately a series of family and personal health issues put her music career on hold, but it is hoped that Julie will be able to return to recording and touring in the future.