Scenes From a Scene #037—Grandma Kelsey

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In Woody Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris, a writer played by Owen Wilson time-travels back to Paris in the 1920s and meets a young Ernest Hemingway, whom he asks to read his manuscript. Hemingway refuses, saying that as a writer himself, he will be overly critical and hate it, and if it's good, he'll be jealous and hate it even more. As a musician, it's hard not to feel that way watching Grandma Kelsey play—a deep enchantment tinged with a bitter hatred for the seeming depth of her talent.

Her style is simple—bluesy folk songs strummed on a beautiful Gretsch hollow-body electric—but her timid sincerity is enchanting. Unlike many acoustic acts that spend their time melodically moping around heartbreak, Kelsey's songs cover topics as simple as autumn with an infectious reverence. Though she plays a style that audiences routinely process as background music, all eyes were on Kelsey, hypnotized by the sort of sultry melodies that turn mere lyrics to poetry.

If a solo performer can sell it like that, who needs a band?

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