Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Saturday, 23 March 2013 12:49

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

Local Artist Spotlight


Dad Jr: Get Down. Hard.

Sun June 29

Graham Pagano

Mon June 23
Graham Pagano's debut album Quit Complaining is a high charged mix of old and new music. his old blues and classic country feel blended up with a rock and roll attitude makes this stripped down album explode…

88.1 KDHX Shows

m-grill.jpg

KDHX Recommends

July
Saturday
26

Genevieve at Harvest Sessions 2014

Genevieve at Harvest Sessions 2014 Harvest Sessions welcomes Genevieve -- featuring Rebecca Ryan and Leslie Sanazaro -- to the West Pool Pavilion for a morning of acoustic music. This free Saturday morning concert series takes place at the Tower Grove Farmers'...


July
Sunday
27

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round Welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round Welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars 88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Sugar Free All-Stars for a family matinee Sunday, July 27 at Noon. Kids under two are free. $8 advance tickets on sale now. Tickets available at the door for $10. Kids under two are free. For...


July
Thursday
31

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys KDHX presents Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys at The Stage, July 31 at 8pm. Tickets available online.   Born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri, Folk remembers watching his Dad pick the country blues on a...


Get Answers!

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

Online Users

5 users and 8312 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook