Kelly Werts

K seated center


Kelly Werts sings songs from early America in partnership with his fingerstyle guitar. In an era long before today’s singer-songwriters, songs were born anonymously and then open-sourced to many singers over many years, with the results being available to us now as time-tested treasures. Kelly brings these old songs into a new dialogue between voice and instrument, with surprises at each new encounter.

Over the past thirty years Kelly has explored many new ways of playing old-time traditional music in groups like The Plaid Family and The Sons of Rayon, where the purity of varied acoustic sounds have mingled in sometimes jarring new ways. Away from the structure of such ensembles, he is more free to choose his options as they arise,  adding a guitar lick or harmony here and changing the key there. Therein lies the excitement of Kelly’s solo performances. Exploring chestnuts of old-time Americana (as well as a few songs from the past 50 years), Kelly takes us on a sightseeing trip through the mysterious and wonderful landscape of each song.

Kelly has established a reputation as a performer, arranger and producer through his collaborations with some of the best musicians in the Midwest. His appearances in concerts, festivals and schools have helped to keep the old songs alive in the hearts and minds of young and old. By constantly finding new ways of playing old-time music, he has helped to preserve and illuminate it for generations to come.