Kelly Wells - KDHX

Folk School? St. Louis, home of the Blues? That’s right. In a world that is dominated by high tech gadgets, a fast paced world where everyone needs to get there first, there are some who realize the importance of recognizing a slower time... a time when the end of a hard days work meant heading out to the front porch or a friend’s front porch with your fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, maybe all of these, and relaxing into some tunes. De-stressing, re-charging, chilling, all familiar terms and necessary terms but certainly not new terms. Having been raised in rural Oklahoma, a child of the sixties, my family lived like this in a lot of ways. We jammed old time country and bluegrass, for fun and relaxation, Mom on the guitar, Dad on the French Harp, and we three siblings harmonizing, away with “In the Pines” kicking it off, always with Dad coming in about three beats late on every measure. I miss those times. Raising my own family through the nineties and into the 2000’s ( that is so freakin’ weird to type!), our family jams just didn’t happen. We were too busy. Video games were the rage for the kids. Our folk jams were with friends maybe a weekend a month. My daughter got caught up in the fast lane and never looked back. My son, on the other hand, went back and forth between video games and good music. He still does that. Several years ago I first heard “Daddy What’s A Train” by Utah Phillips. It struck a chord with me. The steamers are novelty now, replaced by the new streamlined locomotives which seem to be holding their own in the freight business. The old steam engines still make novel trips across the country now and then, a throwback to the good old days- preservation. Could these giant iron horses really go the way of the buffalo? Could real live acoustic music, the music of our heritage really become extinct? Replaced by electronica or even worse, a disco revival? Things we take for granted really do disappear. For the last several years we’ve watched bluegrass, old time and punk fuse into what I call thrash grass, high energy acoustic string band music with drums and pulsing energy. Danceable. Bob Dylan’s classic song, “The Times, They Are A Changing” is now a catch phrase in today’s world. “The Times They Have A Changed.” Still, I am reassured that our music is safe and in good hands. The folk process is a second by second, moving, twisting thing, ever evolving to fit the mood of the times and the situation. Yet, the more things change the more they stay the same.  
There is still a deep appreciation for the music of our past, our roots, our folk music, just like the old steam trains and steamboats that John Hartford wrote about, kept alive by folks who care. Who said we can’t have our cake and eat it too? I always ate it when I had it and I always will. There is a movement towards preservation of folk music and the enlightenment of the community going on right now in St. Louis, MO. There are people there who are determined to keep it going. Kelly Wells is a mover and a shaker behind the wheel of that Steam Powered folk revival, the KHDX Folk School...
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