Ellison likes to write a nice story; : Mob in a Spin
When David Ellison was 5, his folks went to Miami Beach on vacation. Things were hopping at the Deauville Hotel, site of the Ed Sullivan show’s second telecast of the Beatles.
“They actually were in the same hotel the Beatles were in, and actually saw them, but they really didn’t know who they were,” says Ellison, the singer for the Ohio-based Royal Crescent Mob.
“The Beatles were on the elevator with them and my mom didn’t know who they were. My mom was a big Sinatra fan, as well as Jack Jones and Tony Bennett, and Totie Fields.”
Many years later, the younger Ellison took that raw material and hammered it into the funk-rap tune “Big Show,” a narrative whose affection, detail and reeling momentum get the Mob’s “Spin the World” album off to a rousing start.
Other songs on the band’s major-label debut have that same kind of direct link to reality, most notably “Corporation Enema,” a take-this-job-and-shove-it slow blues, and “Stock Car Race,” a rocking account of a rough night at the track.
“We like to write a nice story,” Ellison explained during a phone interview from his home in Columbus. “ ‘Big Show’ doesn’t say a whole lot, but it has a start and a middle and a finish. I like things like Chuck Berry’s ‘Nadine.’ I always thought that was a great story. . . . I like ‘Stock Car Race’ for that reason. It reminds me of a Chuck Berry song. I think it’s a humorous story.”
The album’s blend of hip attitude and down-to-earth Berry/Stones fundamentals makes it a notice-serving LP, but the Royal Crescent Mob relies on roadwork. They’ve been out opening tours for Living Colour and the Replacements, and they’ll be in town with the B-52’s at the Greek Theatre on Wednesday and Irvine Meadows on Friday, plus a Bogart’s headlining gig on Thursday.
The quartet first made its name with an independent EP and an album, “Omerta,” that reflected Ellison’s childhood apprenticeship with ‘70s funk star Sugar Bonner of the Ohio Players, a neighbor of his in Dayton.
The band’s emphasis now is on improving the songwriting. And there’s still a whole world of inspiration out there, starting with Ellison’s job history.
“I used to unload trucks at a grocery store. I worked at a Hyatt for a while. I was a bellman--bag man to the stars. Carried Ronald Reagan’s bags. ZZ Top too. I got stiffed by the U.S. government, but ZZ took care of me. I had to get an FBI check and everything, ran me through the file, then I got stiffed.”
Definitely material for another song.
“ ‘Stiffed by Ronnie’?” Ellison suggested. “You never know. It may pop out.”