April 13, 2011

The Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions with Kelli Schaefer

Kelli Schaefer took me by complete surprise the first time I saw her perform, at my inaugural house show back in November. Her voice is massive and swells effortlessly (and shiver-inducingly) from deep places within her, just as her piercingly smart lyrics do. One of the most immediately riveting performers I have seen in years, she has silenced the crowd every time I have seen her since then. In her kinetic, can’t-take-my-eyes-off-of-you magnetism, a friend commented that she is reminiscent of The Tallest Man On Earth’s live show. While their music is divergent, they hold power over a crowd in the same way.

On the same gorgeous Saturday last month when The Head and The Heart performed in the historic Shove Chapel for me, Kelli sat high in the pews, listening underneath the stained glass windows. She took the stage herself to grace us all with two stripped and strong acoustic songs from her debut full-length album The Ghost of The Beast (2011, Amigo/Amiga Records). She was feeling a bit under the weather and apologized for her voice, to which all of us listening laughed out loud. She was incredible. She was magnetic.

I am thrilled to present her as the second Fuel/Friends Chapel Session.

Gone In Love – Kelli Schaefer
This song is one of the most gorgeous and compellingly authentic explorations of what true love looks like that I’ve ever heard. By true love I don’t mean roses and greeting cards — I mean wiping someone’s tears with the sleeve of your jacket, holding someone even though your arms are shaking, and singing hymns to someone you love as they are passing. Serious stuff, the times when we all need love the most. As Kelli sings, “When the burden is love, it is the only weight that ever was worth carrying.” Those of us sitting in the pews may have felt like we were hearing one of the truest sermons around, and by the end of the song I had silent tears running down my face but couldn’t say why. As the song says, “We will beat the nighttime bloody with this song, joy’s strong mallet.” It is a song to push back the darkness, with each other.

Ghost Of The Beast – Kelli Schaefer
Many of Kelli’s songs seem to wrestle honestly with faith and salvation, especially the way that it meets the punch-in-the-face reality of illness, desire, and failure. I appreciate this, very much. This song took on a different dimension as it rang out through the church (interfaith though it is) – “Oh mother, you taught me good, you made me want to do the things that I should/ you told me Jesus’ gonna make me a saint, gonna take my hand and make my life complete/ but the narrow path is closing in / sometimes I think I’m too fat to fit on it…” The song, like all her music, plumbs the depth and is beautiful because of her honesty. When she struck the last note and the song ended hanging cliffside, there were several seconds of stunned silence among us sitting there, we onlookers and the other band, and then we all started clapping as loudly as we could.


We’ve already got a few more Chapel Sessions in the pipeline; stay tuned!

[Huge-hearted thanks again to the fine folks at Blank Tape Records for the audio recording and engineering; the last photo is credit the talented Genevieve Pierson]


  • Love.
    …and I must say, Genevieve’s photo is quite poetic.

    Charity — April 13, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  • Is there a zip file for these like for the head and the heart?

    Sarah — April 13, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

  • well, i figured since there were just two songs, you could directly download them with two clicks?

    browneheather — April 13, 2011 @ 11:09 pm

  • but i just added a zip file anyways.

    browneheather — April 13, 2011 @ 11:15 pm

  • Good lord, that last verse of ‘Ghost of the Beast’ is tremendous.

    Hopefully she’s rolling out on tour sometime soon (or perhaps play Doe Bay) cause I would absolutely love to see this in person.

    Adam — April 14, 2011 @ 7:33 am

  • I’ve been lurking and enjoying your blog for some time now. You’ve turned me onto several bands/singers that I hadn’t know about before. And now I discover through this post that you’re working at the college I attended for 2 years. Some friends and I actually did a “coffee house” performance at Shove, back in 1979!

    thanks for this concert, and for all the other musical recommendations over the years.

    pvz — April 15, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  • [...] sure to stop over to Fuel/Friends, as they recently posted another Chapel Session, this time with Kelli Schaefer. I have yet to hear see her live (fingers crossed for her being one of the acts at Doe Bay Fest), [...]

    ‘Home’- Kelli Schaefer | songsfortheday — April 23, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  • Amazing.

    AminoAcid — October 5, 2012 @ 9:52 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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