Kelly Werts is on a mission to remind us of the great music that has come from the past, and celebrate it in the present. Using two simple ingredients, voice and guitar, he takes classic songs from early folk, country and popular music and gives them new life. With his finger style guitar, he weaves new musical thoughts around and through the vocal melodies.
“I never get tired of exploring even the simplest song,” Kelly explains. “An old tune like ‘The Crawdad Song’ offers limitless musical opportunities when you roam around inside it with a guitar.” The title track of his new CD, “Crawdad”, inspires his musical imagination, fueled by memories of a youth spent “messing around at the creek by the house, catching crawdads, and generally getting into mischief.”
Kelly has made much musical mischief since then, playing all styles through the years and appreciating each for what they had to offer. These days, he picks songs one by one, from different decades, that are suited to the guitar and speak in terms universal enough that listeners from any generation can appreciate. Playing an old song with a new approach brings a kind of balance for Werts between past, present and future.
Kelly has payed his dues in bars, clubs, schools and bigger concert venues. Wider recognition came to him after twice placing in the finals of the Walnut Valley International Finger Picking Championships. While he still plays the occasional hot lick, Kelly is often heard around Kansas City accompanying singer Connie Dover, whose lyrical style calls out for simplicity and taste in a guitarist. He has also been heard in other small groups throughout the Midwest, and is quickly recognized when he sings his theme song for “Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations”, a popular Kansas City PBS television series.
With his latest solo CD, “Crawdad”, Kelly embarks on a period of performing based on solo and group encounters with his favorite songs. Appearing on occasion with fiddle, accordion, cello, percussion and other instruments, Kelly is always looking for new combinations of sounds to wrap around the music.
Kelly Werts offers concert performances that range from concert settings to outdoor folk music festivals. Lecture-demonstrations are available that include improvisation, folk music styles, and string instrument techniques.
Kelly offers informal performances, jam sessions, and group workshops that apply to instrumental techniques and ensemble coaching.
In addition to lecture-demonstrations that cover instrumental techniques and music styles, Kelly has extensive experience in musical instruction, history of traditional music styles, as well as composition and arranging. Presentations can be tailored to different settings, from college to late-elementary school, as well as public presentations.