Folk band Short Round Stringband performing at Summer Dusk Concert tonight

Betse Ellis stands outside Eleos Coffee on Independence Avenue. PHOTO/Layne Stracener

Layne Stracener

Editorial Assistant


Featuring Short Round Stringband, the free, family-friendly Summer Dusk Concert will be at 7 p.m. tonight at The Colonnade in Kessler Park, 3000 St. John Ave.

Short Round Stringband is an old-time folk band made up of two musical couples: Betse & Clarke (Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt, who live in Northeast Kansas City, Mo.), and The Aching Hearts (Kelly Wells and Ryan Spearman, who live in St. Louis, Mo.). The bassist is Chris DeVictor of Konza Swamp and other bands, who lives in Lawrence, Kan.

The Short Round Stringband website describes the band’s music as “a revival of old-time, country, and southern mountain music that’s fresh and relevant.”

The band came together as a feature on the Main Stage at The John Hartford Memorial Festival in May 2017 to play a tribute to John Hartford, a folk musician.

Inspired by the creativity and energy they found as a group, they decided to form a band, often putting DeVictor into the mix on upright bass.

“If you have chemistry with other people in a creative sense, you kind of know it right away,” Ellis said. “What we were able to accomplish in just three-and-a-half days together to prepare a whole concert set for a festival stage, and then the consequent performance like a month later just sealed the deal. It’s a whole lot of fun and creatively fulfilling.”

Since the band members live in different parts of the state, they have learned to be efficient with the time they have, Ellis said.

“It’s actually pretty invigorating,” she said. “The time we get together really counts.”

Ellis said to expect to be taken on a journey through musical stories at the concert.

“The songs take you places,” Ellis said. “Some of them tell stories, some of them are just either celebrating a moment in your life or the tradition of murder ballods and tapping into that history but also a whole lot of fun.”

Ellis said the band members might burst into laughter at any moment on stage.

“Clarke has earned the nickname ‘Wildcard’ because what he might say on the mic is hilarious and bizarre and we crack each other up and it is contagious,” Ellis said. “We have a whole lot of fun, but we also take the music we make really seriously and we’re really committed so we hope it’s engaging and surprising.”

This is the first time Short Round Stringband has played at a Summer Dusk Concert. Ellis said she is honored to play in such a beautiful part of the Historic Northeast.

“It’s fantastic to get people together for a free concert in our neighborhood,” Ellis said. “That means a lot to be able to be a part of it as residents. I’d want to play it, regardless, but it’s that much more meaningful because it’s in our neighborhood.”

To listen to Short Round Stringband’s music or read more information about the band, visit

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