Betse Ellis

Betse Ellis, the fiddle player for high-energy KC hillbilly quartet the Wilders, summons that outfit’s Ozarks-tradition sound on her first solo album. She explores some other styles, too. Don’t You Want to Go? begins with a couple of traditionals: “White River,” a bowed-and-plucked, fiddle-only tune, followed by her vocal arrangement of “John Henry.” Then she rosins up the bow for her bluegrass original, “Run!” Those other traditions? How about the acoustic blues of “Looking the World Over”? The flat-top guitars of the Dually Jukes have the sounds of loose strings on vintage instruments. (Think George Harrison soloing on “For You Blue.”) But through it all, there’s a sweet and mellow center to this CD. Ellis sings of a woman cryin’ and tryin’ to sleep on “Another Night Gone.” The slow, sad song has a minor-key interlude that makes the lyrics more poignant when she returns to them. For good measure, Ellis uncorks “La Cinquantaine,” a moderately slow instrumental of another vintage by French Romantic composer Jean Gabriel-Marie, featuring Wilder Ike Sheldon on piano. Then it’s back to the taproot sounds Ellis and friends, including her new band Dangerhand, are known for. Whoa, Betse!

Categories: Music