In honor of his longtime friend, Quad Cities singer-songwriter Jordan Danielsen has organized and will host a celebration of life for the late Dave Ellis, Tuesday, May 17, 6-10 p.m., at Gypsy Highway, 2606 W. Locust St., Davenport.
Two days before his 66th birthday, the beloved QC musician and disc jockey passed away from lung cancer, at 65, on April 23, 2022, at Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House in Bettendorf.
The Tuesday night event next week will be an open mic for area musicians — so fitting since Danielsen first met Ellis 20 years ago, when Danielsen was 21 and starting to run the open mic night at Moline’s Bier Stube Tuesday nights, when Ellis ran it Wednesdays.
“The first time, he was joking with me, but he told Dieter the owner, you know, why did you hire this guy that’s going to suck?” Danielsen recalled Tuesday. “I was 21, I probably did suck, just starting out. He was just joking with me.
“I bought shirts from Dave over the years and we’ve given each other gigs,” he said, adding he has fond memories of going to parties at Ellis’ barn in Muscatine.
“He did a great job of making people happy,” Danielsen said. “How can you pull up to a gig a thousand times and unload your speakers? He always made people feel welcome, all the gigs he did. And he’s created a lot of friends and brought a lot of people together.”
“Dave was always just hilarious. He had a lot of great one-liners,” he added. “He would say, you know, if there’s any song that you don’t like, give me $20, and I won’t do it. If you don’t like what I’m doing, pay me $100 and I’ll leave right now.”
A Facebook post from Bryan Saunders early this month said of Ellis:
“He was such a class act. He was incredibly kind, and generous with his time, mentoring many over the years. He was an amazing open mic host. His calm, kind demeanor made it a lot easier for a lot of nervous, novice performers like myself to get the courage to get on stage.
“In fact, the first time I played guitar on stage ever, was at his open mic at the Bier Stube. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing him in many years, and regrettably, all I have now are memories. RIP Dave, your presence will be greatly missed by so many.”
In 1992, Ellis opened KD Tees, an extremely successful screen-printing business that is still going strong today. He continued to fulfill orders until his final days, his obituary said.
Although Ellis had successful careers, his true passion was his music. He played in several bands over the years, including Audrey and the Blue Cats and The TZZR Band. He and Dave Stanbro, his musical partner for many years, entertained crowds as the ever-popular duo, The Frydaddies.
He hosted open mic nights, performed solo and with friends, and invited friends and musicians from all around to perform at his infamous barn parties in Muscatine. Danielsen expects many friends of Ellis to come play on the 17th at Gypsy Highway, and it likely may go past 10 p.m.
He decided to hold it on a Tuesday night, since that’s an off night for most musicians — including a rare off for Danielsen, who has 21 gigs lined up this month alone.