Music News & Reviews

Stroke left Frankfort musician unable to play. So friends, family playing to help him.

Frankfort musician Jeff Ellis suffered a stroke in 2017, and friends have organized the Jeffest event to raise money for his recovery.
Frankfort musician Jeff Ellis suffered a stroke in 2017, and friends have organized the Jeffest event to raise money for his recovery. Photo provided

Jeff Ellis was a staple of the Frankfort music scene before a stroke last fall paralyzed his right side, leaving him unable to play music or continue working as an upholsterer and landscaper.

Now his friends in the music community have come together to show him he is not alone.

Jeffest, a music festival to benefit Ellis, will be held this Saturday at Josephine Sculpture Park from 5-11 pm.

“He’s just been such a force musically and personally in so many people’s lives,” said Ellis’s son Jordon Ellis, who will be headlining the festival with cellist Ben Sollee, with whom he has played music for 8 years.

Also playing the festival are Jeff's friend Jeri Katherine Howell and her fiancé Nat Colten, along with Ellis’s son Jaret Ellis, who will perform both with his own band Lions of Mercury and with his brother Jordon in Native Invaders.

Players can also sign up to perform in the “Musicians for Jeff” portion that kicks off the festival. Anyone who wants to show their support for Ellis onstage can perform.

Tickets are $10 for everyone over 10, but attendees can donate more at the door. All Jeffs get in free. Amazing Gracie and Taylor Belle Ice Cream will bring food trucks, along with beer from West Sixth Brewing. All proceeds from the festival will go directly to Ellis.

Brian Baker, one of the organizers of Jeffest, said the community hoped to raise at least $5,000 in order to help Ellis’s recovery while he regains movement in his right side. People can also donate to the Jeffest GoFundMe, started by Jeffest organizer and fellow band member Joanna Hay, which has raised about $2,000 of its $3,000 goal.

“He could use our help and we’re glad to do it,” Baker said. “He’s just such a likeable and a good person. He’s done everything he can to help other young artists find a stage.”

Ellis performed around Frankfort as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist with his band Stirfry Musette, which often showcased upcoming young artists like Howell. Baker described how Ellis would play local fundraisers and volunteer his time for a good cause.

“Everyone wants to come together and celebrate what he’s done,” Jordon said. “With as much history as he’s had helping other events and helping people out, it’s to celebrate him.”

He said if the festival was a success, he would consider continuing it annually to benefit different causes.

“It’s definitely something we want to try out and keep going if it goes well.”

If you go


When: 5-11 p.m. June 23

Where: Josephine Sculpture Park, 3355 Lawrenceburg Road, Frankfort

Tickets: $10 minimum