Gaelynn Lea’s Grand Ideas from a Small Violin

Gaelynn Lea plays two Bay Area gigs in February

Gaelynn Lea plays two Bay Area gigs in February (Photo: courtesy of the artist)

Gaelynn Lea is a fiddle player from Duluth, Minnesota with an ear for haunting melodies — both in her original songs and traditional Celtic tunes. She started playing violin because she had a crush on a fellow student in the fifth grade, but at first it wasn’t clear she could physically play the instrument. Lea has what’s called brittle bone disease, a genetic condition, and her bent limbs are prone to fractures. Nonetheless, she and a teacher figured out how she could hold and bow the violin like a cello; she even uses a toe to help brace the instrument.

Lea uses a loop pedal to add layers upon layers of sound as she sings from her wheelchair in a high, clear voice. In 2016, she won NPR’s second annual Tiny Desk Contest, shining, as my co-host Rachael Myrow noted, “like a comet out of six thousand contestants.” Gaelynn Lea plays Feb. 10 at Patreon HQ in San Francisco and Feb. 11 at the Hopmonk Tavern in Sonoma — these are shows to plan ahead for, because she’s playing in small rooms that could easily sell out. Details here.

Gaelynn Lea’s Grand Ideas from a Small Violin 25 January,2018Cy Musiker


Cy Musiker

Cy Musiker co-hosts The Do List and covers the arts for KQED News and The California Report.  He loves live performance, especially great theater, jazz, roots music, anything by Mahler. Cy has an MJ from UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, and got his BA from Hampshire College. His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists with their Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism. When he can, Cy likes to swim in Tomales Bay, run with his dog in the East Bay Hills, and hike the Sierra.

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