EPK for early summer 2019 release



Short Round Stringband will release a new album in early summer 2019, entitled Ain’t No Part of Nothin’ — a tribute to Bill Monroe. The recording presents an old time, refreshing atmosphere for classic and lesser-known songs written and/or recorded by Monroe. Expect to enjoy some of Monroe’s biggest hits, and be ready for surprises.

The material selected for the album comes from different rooms in Monroe’s musical house. Fans of Monroe are aware of his background playing old time songs and tunes before he founded the Blue Grass Boys and his continuing homage to his roots throughout his career. With this new album, Short Round maintains the traditional string band approach, highlighting lyrical content, harmony singing, and ensemble playing.

Setup for pre-production rehearsals and recording. “Diamond of Power” recording configuration designed/implemented by Clarke Wyatt with Ryan Spearman.

Setup for pre-production rehearsals and recording. “Diamond of Power” recording configuration designed/implemented by Clarke Wyatt with Ryan Spearman.

This band initially formed to perform a tribute set to John Hartford at the Bill Monroe Music Park (for the John Hartford Memorial Festival)… late night jam sessions at the festival provided a perfect catalyst to take a closer look at Bill Monroe’s songs and repertoire for a tribute album. Short Round Stringband is an old time band, one not bound by so-called restrictions of genre or style. It’s about the core of the music. If it rings true, if it’s exciting to play, if it feels real, it’s worth doing. Working on the selections for this album was an awakening experience.

Arranged, recorded, and produced by Short Round Stringband, Ain’t No Part of Nothin’ will bring joy to long-time bluegrass and old time music fans, and has the power to convert those who have yet to be convinced.

“Little Cabin Home on the Hill” being pressed to vinyl, October 2018

“Little Cabin Home on the Hill” being pressed to vinyl, October 2018

The following preview tracks are from pre-production rehearsals… just as the album was recorded, these are live with no overdubs. Our goal with these recordings was to decide arrangements, and to assess our selections… these are not the final recordings for the album. We recorded the album tracks in December 2018. You’ll hear our old time approach, vocal harmonies, and the good times of playing this music together.

“Rabbit in a Log”, while not written by Monroe, was recorded by him with his brother, Charlie Monroe, in 1938. Monroe recorded it again with Doc Watson. A quintessential favorite!

We recorded “Little Cabin Home on the Hill” for an art installation in Kansas City — the exhibition was called “Open Spaces” and a record label from New York, Never Records, set up a studio in an old brick building near downtown. Also recorded live in one take, the song was mixed and pressed on a vinyl record on site.


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.

Band Members, as seen below left to right:

Clarke Wyatt: banjos, guitar, vocals
Betse Ellis: fiddles, vocals
Ryan Spearman: mandolin, vocals, fiddle, guitar, banjo
Kelly Wells: guitar, vocals, mandolin
Chris DeVictor: bass, vocals



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


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. Longtime collaborator Chris DeVictor on bass really ties the room together, earning him “The Rug” nickname.

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, a bassist, 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).

Recent performances include:

Kansas Bluegrass Association Winterfest

John Hartford Memorial Festival

Carlsen Center presents Light Up The Lawn

The Rock House

Ozark House Concert Series

Stockyards Brewing Company

Driftwood Music

Carondelet Concert Series

Private showcases at Folk Alliance International conference 2018

John Hartford birthday memorial concert (a sold out performance in St. Louis, December 2017)


For more information, contact folks@shortroundstringband.com - you’ll reach Betse Ellis and Kelly Wells.

Want to hear more? Check out 2018’s “Early Recordings of Short Round Stringband” on our Audio page…

Plus, a couple choice videos on our Video page…