Dolan Ellis, Arizona's official state balladeer since 1966, will perform at Abounding Grace Sanctuary on Saturday.


The Live Acoustic Venue Association presents Arizona's official state balladeer, Dolan Ellis, Saturday evening as part of LAVA's "all-star" series at Abounding Grace Sanctuary, 2450 S. Kolb Road.

Ellis moved from Kansas to Phoenix in 1959, and he landed a long-term contract playing at Portofino's Coffee House in Scottsdale.

The venue soon became so popular that it attracted big-name stars, and Ellis opened for all of them. He eventually opened his own folk music club called Dolan's, where he hired a young John Denver, long before Denver became a major star.

Ellis was invited to join the New Christy Minstrels in the early 1960s. He left the group in 1963, preferring to play in Arizona, the state he had grown to love.

Ellis was first appointed as the official Arizona state balladeer in 1966 by then-Gov. Sam Goddard. He has been reappointed by all 10 subsequent Arizona governors.

Ellis has received many honors over the years, and in 2011 he was inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. A special video that was made to commemorate his induction can be viewed on the LAVA website.

These days Ellis is again performing with the New Christy Minstrels as well as playing solo concerts like the one at Abounding Grace Sanctuary and at the Arizona Folklore Preserve in Hereford, outside of Sierra Vista, where he is the artist in residence.

Ellis has written and recorded more than 300 songs about his experiences in Arizona, and he incorporates his large-screen photography into his performances.

Ellis recently released a new CD called "Sense of Place," and he will be playing songs from it Saturday along with some old favorites.

Early ticket sales for Ellis' show have been strong, so if you haven't purchased tickets in advance, check the LAVA website after 2 p.m. Saturday to find out if the show has sold out.

If you go

• What: Dolan Ellis "Sense of Place" concert

• When: 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Abounding Grace Sanctuary, 2450 S. Kolb Road

• Tickets: $15 in advance at online or $20 cash at the door

• Info: Email, call 647-3234 or go to

To contribute a story go online to online.