Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Saturday, 23 March 2013 11:49

Betse Ellis 3/23/13

Betse Ellis Betse Ellis Joe O'Toole
Written by Glen Herbert
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

  • Date Recorded: March 23, 2013
  • Artist / Band: Betse Ellis
  • Hosting Show: Down Yonder
  • Sound: Dan Kinney

We often like to pigeonhole artists, despite all we know about the diversity of musical influences.

Streaming Audio

Still, some genres are more insular than others, and Dave Van Ronk lampoons the idea beautifully in his book, "The Mayor of MacDougal Street," in a discussion of the "moldy fig wars." He's writing about the divide between traditional jazz and bebop, a boundary that was staked and defended in 1940s Greenwich Village, though there's a lesson in here for all of us. "A duel to the death was proclaimed," writes Van Ronk, "and critics solemnly lined up: you were either a progressive, hailing the innovations of the boppers, or a warrior in the defense of traditional New Orleans style jazz -- a 'mouldy fig.' In hindsight ... both [sides] took their positions to ridiculous extremes."

Of course, this kind of thing happens today, too, though not always with the same level of enthusiasm. It happens more in some genres than others, such as bluegrass, where it's easy to get traditionalists' hackles up. It's especially true in the world of old-time music, where the whole project often seems to retain the tradition: preservation through the production of music true to its roots.

Which is why the music of Betse Ellis is so refreshing. She is a stellar old-time fiddler in the Ozark style, and she knows the tradition upside-down and backwards. Her fiddle work is, in a word, stunning, and the more you know about what she is doing the more you can appreciate what she is doing.

But, she's also a person, one who has an interest in a very wide swath of traditional and popular music, and one who isn't afraid to mix things up a bit. By also being a very accomplished singer-songwriter, she shows that you don't have to take sides. And, even when she isn't mixing influences in a piece, her more progressive material shines a light on the traditional material, creating lots of room for her audience to think about and appreciate what she is doing. Any way you cut it, she's no moldy fig.

All photos by Joe O'Toole.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

KDHX Recommends

February
Sunday
01

Discovery Series

The Discovery Series, a 10-event series spanning February to June, 2015, will not only bring you new music, but also music-focused interactive sessions that take a look at how music plays a role in our society. Each month the...


February
Friday
06

Leo Kottke

KDHX welcomes Leo Kottke to The Sheldon on Friday, February 6th at 8 PM. Folk guitarist Leo Kottke is known for his innovative 12-string technique, and intimate performance style.


February
Saturday
07

DIY Mixing/Mastering Workshop with Patrick Crecelius

KDHX is proud to host a DIY mixing workshop for musicians at The Stage at KDHX. The clinic will be taught by Patrick Crecelius of Cedar Box Studio. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, his credits include such local artists as Ryan...


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Upcoming Events HAPPENING

Online Users

7 users and 9201 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook