Letter from Featured Musician Kelsey Wells

When Sandy invited me to be part of this project last year, I imagined it being a respite and change of pace from my usual musical endeavors, which typically involve a fair bit of traveling and playing with many different other people. When the time for the project came around, however, it ended up being a different kind of respite: from fighting the urge to constantly refresh the news, from the seemingly never-ending schedule of Zoom calls, from that consistent underlying feeling of vague existential dread. While reading the poems in this issue, my mind searched for concrete images and memories to grasp, so that I could ground the connections to the tunes in very real feelings. Hope you enjoy.

Bio: Kelsey Wells came into the world with her feet still, her mouth shut, and her eyes wide open. Since then, she has discovered the joys of old-time fiddling, folk dancing, storytelling, and various other traditional arts. Though rooted in the heritage of Appalachian music, she works to create intercultural musical communities and has a keen interest in the fiddling styles of Western North Carolina, southern Sweden, and a few places in between. Kelsey plays fiddle and banjo and currently performs in the popular contra dance bands Turnip the Beet and Silver Sail, with Vermont-based folk musician Brendan Taaffe, and as a musical accompanist for her ma, poet Kory Wells. In these recordings, she is playing a 4-string fiddle made in Romania and finished at the Violin Shop in Nashville, a 5-string Chinese workshop fiddle, and an open-back banjo made by Dogwood Banjo Co., in Minneapolis.