Joe Ely, a rockabilly yeller and a sensitive balladeer, looks like a slightly less innocent Gene Vincent (at 41, he should). He came from Lubbock, Texas, played in the Flatlanders, finally got a record deal in 1977, and toured with the Clash and the Kinks. MCA, a pond-scum label, dropped him, cruelly, in 1984: since then, Ely’s made two first-rate records for tiny Hightone in Oakland–for some unfathomable reason, no other major has picked him up. Live, Ely blows the roof off the joint (he just can’t get arrested outside of one). Look for the obligatory Buddy Holly cover, rockin’ stuff like “Settle for Love” (from last year’s Dig All Night), and the terrific “Fingernails” as a closer. He has a bandmate named David Grissom who plays guitar like a bullwhip, and you should be prepared to be spent at the end of the show: Ely could give out a guarantee. Note that the Friday show is the second of a two-night stand. The Michael McDermott Band opens. Tonight, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 788-2118.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Tracy Hart.