Genres: Old Time - Folk - Ozark - Good Time

Tagline: Pan-Missouri Posse

Hometown: Kansas City/St. Louis

Contact: Betse Ellis, Kelly Wells

Recommended if You Like (RIYL): Highwoods Stringband, John Hartford, The Coon Creek Girls, Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard, The Wilders, High on the Hog





Short Round Stringband presents a revival of old-time, country and southern mountain music that’s fresh and relevant. Founded in 2017 by duos Betse & Clarke and The Aching Hearts, this pan-Missouri folk band enthralls new fans and long-time roots music devotees with their captivating personalities and consummate artistry.

The Short Round Stringband was just wonderful! Their passion for the music is evident in the great stories they tell, and of course, in their spot-on performance. We felt part of the history and like we were family.
— Emily Behrmann, Carlsen Center
Anything that Betse Ellis is involved in is going to be great! Caught their set at Hartford fest and loved it, I’m sure you will too.
— Danny Barnes
Clarke Wyatt, Betse Ellis, Kelly Wells, Ryan Spearman

Clarke Wyatt, Betse Ellis, Kelly Wells, Ryan Spearman

Happy face

Happy face


Two old time bands meet at a bar... not just any bar, but the legendary Grand Emporium (RIP) in Kansas City, Missouri. In the early 2000s, Ryan Spearman’s Band, High on the Hog, on tour from Colorado, played the Rural Grit Happy Hour and Betse Ellis just happened to be there with her band, The Wilders. The legendary jam session in the alley next to the bar after the show cemented a lifelong friendship. High on the Hog and the Wilders may be history now, but there’s new history in the making…


...And it sure was worth the wait. Ryan and Betse have finally come together musically, bringing along Ryan's duo partner, Kelly Wells (The Aching Hearts from St. Louis) and Betse’s duo partner Clarke Wyatt (Betse & Clarke from Kansas City). All night jam sessions, love of traditional music, and shared musical sensibilities turned into a special main-stage show at the 2017 John Hartford Memorial Festival, where the two duos performed together for the first time, highlighting the magical chemistry of those former bands in a new setting with two musical couples.

One set just wasn’t enough. Now these four are creating more music together and planning more adventures as the newly-formed Short Round Stringband. With deep connections to old-time, country and Ozark tunes and songs, Short Round Stringband takes you on a moving journey through the sounds and stories of the American experience. Their hard driving fiddle tunes will get you out of your seat. Their vocal duets will bring a tear to your eye, and their original songs and inventive new compositions showcase a passion for the depth of tradition and a look to new creative paths.

Members of the Short Round Stringband have collectively honed their craft and engage in multiple aspects of the folk music community. How many folk bands can boast an electroacoustic jazz composer trained in Paris, an executive director of a community radio station, 2 podcast producers, 2 radio DJs, 2 engineer/producers, 2 published ensemble composers, an online banjo lesson website, a multiple fiddle contest winner, 2 classically-trained instrumentalists, 4 folk music educators, 2 fiddlers, 2 banjo players, 3 mandolin players, 3 guitar players (and one tenor guitar player), 2 cellists, a violist, a harpist, and 4 inventive cooks?

Band members have graced such stages and festivals as Celtic Connections (Glasgow, Scotland), High Sierra, The Shetland Folk Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The Northwest String Summit, Wintergrass, John Hartford Memorial Festival, Fayetteville Roots Festival, Grey Fox Festival, Wakarusa, Austin City Limits Festival, Hamawe Roots Festival (Belgium), Walnut Valley Festival, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride Jazz Festival, The Sheldon Concert Hall (St Louis, MO), The Fox Theatre (Boulder, CO), and Carnegie Hall (Dunfermline, Scotland).

Band Lineup:

Betse Ellis: Fiddles, vocals
Kelly Wells: Guitar, mandolin, vocals
Ryan Spearman: Mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar, vocals
Clarke Wyatt: Banjos, guitar, vocals
Chris DeVictor: Bass, vocals


Short Round Stringband released a limited edition EP-length recording in 2018 - “Early Recordings of Short Round Stringband”, highlighting the powerhouse fiddling and singing of Betse Ellis, Ryan Spearman’s warm baritone singing and multiple instrument charms, Kelly Wells with her charismatic singing and guitar playing, and Clarke Wyatt’s deeply grounded and inventive finger-style banjo and guitar.

srsb ep-final-face-copy-lores.jpg

Track listing:

Sugar in the Gourd - Memory of Your Smile - Only Remembered - Southbound - Golden Slippers - Free Little Bird - Hawk’s Got a Chicken and Flew into the Woods - Beware, Oh Take Care

For more information on this recording, send an email to

About half the instruments used in a SRSB performance... it's a string band lover's delight!

About half the instruments used in a SRSB performance... it's a string band lover's delight!

Action shots from a concert at The Rock House, Reeds Spring, Missouri (photos: Jeanette Bair)

Action shots from a concert at The Rock House, Reeds Spring, Missouri (photos: Jeanette Bair)


... reveal the spark, magic, and freshness this band has in their pocket. Listeners are reminded of Highwoods Stringband when the fiddlers let loose, and the contrast of two strong female singers with double guitar backup shows how Short Round Stringband is certainly well-rounded in their repertoire.

Have a listen!