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, which is characterized by hot licks and finger-bending one-upmanship. Preferring a more restrained musical approach to his instrument, 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 the theme song for “Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations”, a popular Kansas City PBS television series.
With his debut 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.