In Woody Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris, a writer travels back in time 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. Or if it's good, he'll be jealous and hate it even more. It's hard for musicians not to feel that way watching Boise's Grandma Kelsey play—there's a deep enchantment tinged with a bitter hatred for the depth of Kelsey Swope's 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 melodically mope around heartbreak, Swope's songs cover topics as simple as autumn with an infectious reverence.
As part of her live performances, Swope constructs a shrine in front of the stage featuring candles burning over tokens left by her fans, which include everything from toys and weird scraps of memorabilia to love letters. It definitely sets a mood. And though Grandma Kelsey plays in a style that audiences routinely process as background music, when Swope performs, all eyes are on her, hypnotized by her presence and the sort of sultry melodies that turn mere lyrics into poetry.
Grandma Kelsey will perform at the Treefort Music Fest on Thursday, March 22, at The Crux from 9-9:40 p.m.