Joan Shelley is a songwriter and singer who lives in Kentucky, not far from where she grew up. She draws inspiration from traditional and traditionally-minded performers from her native state, as well as those from Ireland, Scotland, and England, but she’s not a folksinger. Her disposition aligns more closely with that of, say, Roger Miller, June Tabor, or her fellow Kentuckian Tom T. Hall, who once explained—simply, succinctly, in a song—I Witness Life.
She’s not so much a confessional songwriter, and she sings less of her life and more of her place: of landscapes and watercourses; of flora and fauna; of seasons changing and years departing and the ineluctable attempt of humans to make some small sense of all—or, at best, some—of it. Her perspective and performances both have been described, apparently positively, as “pure,” but there’s no trace of the Pollyanna and there’s little of the pastoral, either: her work instead wrestles with the possibility of reconciling, if only for a moment, the perceived “natural” world with its reflection—sometimes, relatively speaking, clear; other times hopelessly distorted—in the human heart, mind, and footprint.
Shelley has crossed the United States and toured Europe several times as a headliner. She has traveled opening shows for Wilco, Patty Griffin, Andrew Bird, and Richard Thompson and has appeared as a guest on WTF with Marc Maron, Fresh Air and Later… with Jools Holland.
Her latest album The Spur was released in June 2022 and was an album of the year in MOJO and Uncut.
Doors at 7pm/Show at 8pm