Kelsey Waldon

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The Goldmine

Release Date: Jun 22, 2014
Label: Independent

I've Got A Way

Release Date: Aug 12, 2016
Label: Independent


“I’ve always said that, if George Jones sang on a disco song, I think it’d still be country,” Kelsey Waldon muses. “If it’s a part of who you are, it’s a part of who you are.” And country music is very much a part of who she is, a part of who she’s always been. The Kentucky singer/songwriter hails from Monkey’s Eyebrow, in rural Ballard County where her family put down roots several generations ago, metaphorically and otherwise. “Farming and planting tobacco were some of the first jobs I had growing up,” she recounts.

Even so, Waldon’s musical tastes reach well beyond those borders, as evidenced on her new release, I’ve Got a Way. From classic crooners like Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn, to bluegrass greats like Ralph Stanley and Ricky Skaggs, to iconic songwriters like Vern Gosdin and Guy Clark, she wears her influences on her sleeve… and proudly so. “I’ve spent a huge majority of my life studying my favorite records, my favorite songs, and my most-favorite singers,” she says, adding, “and you never stop learning or gaining from it. I’m still doing it all the time.”

Waldon was 13 when her parents divorced and, inspired by the music surrounding her, she started playing guitar as a means to make it through her teen years. “I finally felt like I was a part of something when I started playing and writing music. It was something that finally made everything make sense, and it was a very essential and healthy thing for me during my younger years, and still is,” she says. “I wasn’t one of those kids that applied for college or probably even took it very seriously upon graduating high school. I guess I wanted to do things my own way, so I didn’t go to college and I moved to Nashville, on a whim really.”

Upon her arrival in Music City, Waldon toiled away 45+ hours a week in a minimum wage job and played gigs in any bar that would let her in the door and on the stage. “It was a seasoning, and also a questionable period in my life, in which I really saw just how much better I needed to be,” she recalls. “I needed to learn and grow so much more.” Eventually, she ended up at Belmont University, where she studied Songwriting and Music Business. “I never thought I would ever graduate from college,” she says, adding, “and I was the first person in my family to do so, so it really meant a lot to them.” But her schooling didn’t stop once her diploma was in hand: “Of course, the real education is being out in it, and all down in it.”

With a pocket full of songs, Waldon released her debut album in 2014, The Goldmine. The set was met with open arms from both critics and lovers of the kind of country music that she makes — the kind born in bars and raised in honky-tonks, the kind leaning on pedal steel and driven by Telecaster.

As solid as the effort was, its follow-up isn’t just a next step, it’s a forward leap. “I will always be proud of The Goldmine, and it will always remain a part of me,” Waldon offers. “But I hope to only be refining everything from this point on. I’ve Got a Way is a much more empowering and uplifting record for me, and hopefully for everybody else.”

After all, when you’re a songwriter, a couple of years can contain a lifetime of lessons. And that wisdom is what seeps through on her sophomore effort which, like The Goldmine, was produced by Michael Rinne. For Waldon, “It’s a transition in letting go and also being absolutely comfortable in your own skin. It’s my exploration of all the things that really matter in this world, staying true to who I am and to the things that I actually care about.”

Indeed, the newfound confidence and compassion with which she inhabits her place in the world comes through loud and clear on original cuts like “All by Myself,” “Don’t Hurt the Ones (Who’ve Loved You the Most),” and “Life Moves Slow,” as well as her arrangements of Vern and Rex Gosdin’s “There Must Be a Someone” and Bill Monroe’s “Traveling Down This Lonesome Road.”

Perhaps because it was one of the first songs Waldon wrote this go-around,“All By Myself,” in particular, stands out as something of a thesis statement for the rest of the album, if not for life, in general. As she explains, “I had originally written it about one thing, but it turns out that it wasn’t really about me; it was about everyone. It is not a lecture, or a sermon, or a statement from me. I want it to be a statement for everyone, as a whole: The power is only inside of ourselves.”

Because no country record would be complete without a proper kiss-off cut, Waldon scratched out her own entry in that milieu with “You Can Have It“ It probably seems like somewhat of an ornery sentiment — “You can have it, I didn’t want it anyway,” she offers. But it’s not as simple as all that. “For me, this is about peace and contentment within yourself. That place you arrive at in your life where the fear of missing out — or the pressure of pleasing anyone else — doesn’t seem to phase you anymore. It’s like, “You’re either in or you’re out … and if you’re out, that’s fine. I’ll be over here, and I’ll still be alright”

Personal empowerment comes up time and again across I’ve Got a Way. In “Let’s Pretend,” that power emerges through the act of focusing on the good and choosing the kind as part of what Waldon describes as “a ‘Storms Never Last’ mentality” to relationships: “If you start focusing on the good much more than the bad, you always stand a chance.” Further in, the honky-tonk churn and chug of “False King” tugs at a similar thread while providing Waldon with an opportunity to highlight her sense of humor.

Closing the collection are”Traveling Down This Lonesome Road,” which stands as her hard-edged hat tip to Bill Monroe and the music she grew up on, and “The Heartbreak,” which shows she can deliver a weeper, to boot. But this isn’t the standard woe-is- me fare. Here, too, is a message of empowerment and empathy. “This was one of the last songs I wrote for the record, and it almost seemed to come out of nowhere,” Waldon says. “I could only think of it as closing the record: We’re all in this together, and we must move on and keep going.”

Lest anyone think that I’ve Got a Way is the oft-told story of a small town dreamer escaping to the big city, they’ve got another think coming. As Waldon tells it, “That’s only one part of the story to me. I don’t feel like I have to reiterate that at all. I write about what inspires me, in real time. Whether it happens to be something involving that, or something else.”

So, how does Waldon turn those inspirations into the country music that is so much a part of her? “Lay it all out, and sing it from the heart, way down deep,” she says. “If you do it that way, you don’t need gimmicks.”

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Press Clippings


Kelsey Waldon does things the right way (Cincinnati Enquirer)

15 top folk and country concerts in Boston this fall (The Boston Globe)

Country Singer Kelsey Waldon Plays The national Folk Festival (Yes! Weekly)

National Folk Festival: Kelsey Waldon takes her cue from classic country artists (Go Triad)

The Country Side of the 2017 Pickathon Music Festival (Saving Country Music)

Kentuckian Kelsey Waldon takes her first train out West (Riff Magazine)

LRS LIVE Replay: Kelsey Waldon & The Dead Broke Barons (WKYU)

15 Rising Traditional Country Artists You Need to Know (wide Open Country)

Waldon Ponders: Kelsey Waldon Blazes Her Own Trail (Nashville Scene)


Top 100 Songs Of 2016 (NPR)

15 Great Country and Americana Albums You Didn’t Hear in 2016 (Rolling Stone Country)

Essential 2016: Americana Albums We Loved (WMOT)

Country artist Kelsey Waldon comes to Wilkes-Barre’s Kirby Center with Girls, Guns and Glory (The Weekender)

The Top 5 modern country albums (they do exist) (Courier-Journal)

Kelsey Waldon: Straight out of Monkeys Eyebrow (Courier-Journal)

Country Singer Kelsey Waldon Reaches Back To An Earlier Era In ‘I’ve Got A Way’ (NPR’s Fresh Air)

Country singer Kelsey Waldon: Songs so lonesome they spark a smile (Washington Post)

Kelsey Waldon: Dirty Old Town (The Bluegrass Situation) 

Album Review: Kelsey Waldon – “I’ve Got A Way” (Roughstock)

Kelsey Waldon: I’ve Got A Way (American Songwriter)

Review: Kelsey Waldon, ‘I’ve Got A Way’ (NPR)

Western Kentucky’s Kelsey Waldon markets her new album the indie way (Lexington Herald Leader)

The best 16 Nashville albums of 2016 (so far) (Tennessean)

Kelsey Waldon Debuts “You Can Have It” (The Fader)

12 Nashville musicians you should know right now (Tennessean)

Kelsey Waldon Praises Independence On ‘All By Myself’ (Billboard)

Kelsey Waldon to release ‘I’ve Got a Way’ (Tennessean)

See Kelsey Waldon’s Atmospheric ‘All by Myself’ Video (Rolling Stone Country)

Hear Kelsey Waldon’s Defiant New Track, ‘All By Myself’ (Wide Open Country)

Nashville Sessions: Kelsey Waldon (World Cafe)

Lost River Sessions: Kelsey Waldon and Misty Mountain String Band (WKYU)


The UnLocked Sessions /// Kelsey Waldon (Lockeland Springsteen)

Kelsey Waldon “The Goldmine” and “Life Moves Slow” (Relix)

Watch Kelsey Waldon’s Honky-Tonkin’ New Video (Rolling Stone Country)

On the Verge: Kelsey Waldon (Relix)


Kelsey Waldon’s “The Gold Mine” Delivers Traditional Country Gold (Saving Country Music)

Meet the Young Woman Who’s Bringing Grit Back to Country (Mic)

Young Western Ky. singer turned rural life into an album (Lexington Herald Leader)

10 New Artists You Need to Know: Summer 2014 (Rolling Stone Country)

Another Country: Kelsey Waldon’s Tough-As-Nails Songwriting Shines Bright on The Goldmine (The Fader)

615 Spotlight: Kelsey Waldon Hits ‘The Goldmine’ (Billboard)

Song premiere: Kelsey Waldon’s ‘The Goldmine’ (USA Today)


Maria Ivey –

Tour Dates

August 1 – Los Angeles, CA – Hotel Cafe

August 2 – San Luis Obispo, CA – Concerts at SLO Brew

August 3 – San Francisco, CA – Hotel Utah

August 4 –  Happy Valley, OR –  Pickathon

August 5 – Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon

August 9 – Bozeman, MT – Live From The Divide

August 12 – Burlington, WI – Tall Tales Music Festival

September 9 – Greensboro, NC – National Folk Festival

September 10 – Greensboro, NC – National Folk Festival

September 13 – Oxford, MS –  Proud Larry’s

September 14 – Memphis, TN – 1884 Lounge

September 19 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506

September 20 – Washington, DC – Songbyrd

September 21 – Philadelphia, PA – Milkboy

September 22 – Allston, MA – Great Scott

September 23 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge

September 24 – Pittsburg, PA – The Club @ Stage AE

September 27 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Tavern

September 28 – Newport, KY – Southgate House Revival Room

September 29 – Columbus, OH – The Basement

October 1 – Roseland, VA – Devils Backbone Hoopla

October 3 – Indianapolis, IN – HiFI

October 4 – Detroit, MI – The Shelter

October 5 – Madison, WI – The Frequency

October 6 – Chicago, IL – SPACE

October 7 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry

January 1 –  Columbus, OH  – Rumba Cafe