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  • Bella Betts is performing Aug. 28 at the Gold Hill...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Bella Betts is performing Aug. 28 at the Gold Hill Inn.



My dad is a music educator in many shades. He’s taught voice, choir, guitar, bandleading, theory and many other music-related functions.

But what I mean is that he’s just the type of person who offers educated advice on a number of subjects and does so gently. I love his model of teaching, and I’ve seen it show up in my predilections, too.

I think some people just develop that knack for teaching. And likewise, conversely, I think some people really have a knack for self-learning. Autodidact is the technical term for such a person.

I was mercifully homeschooled during the battlefield that would have been my middle school years, and I feel lucky to this day that I never had that “I hate everyone and everything” type of reaction to the adolescent period.

I actually had a blast. While homeschooled, I taught myself how to play guitar, how to build speakers and how to surf. I explored the woods with my brand new band’s drummer, catching fish and trapping wild chickens.

I really think that kind of freedom is good for creative souls. So when two years ago I met a 12-year-old prodigy mandolinist and saw that spark in her eye, I quietly assumed she was homeschooled. And she was.

In 2013, Bella Betts, who was a ripe age of 12 at the time, visited the Colorado Daily’s live music video studio, Second Story Garage, to record a few tracks from her first full-length album.

She plays the mandolin, so we’re talking bluegrass and Americana music here. She didn’t bring a whole band, but the player she did bring was notable. Steve Szymanski is vice president of Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, and he provided guitar backup to Bella’s mandolin in our session.

Why would the vice president of Planet Bluegrass accompany a 12-year-old on a recording at our studio, you ask? Because she’s the real deal, that’s why!

Steve became aware of Bella’s ability when she attended the RockyGrass Academy at Planet Bluegrass, and was early on the Bella train, if you will.

Since our memorable recording with her (you can see it and many other videos at, I’ve also jumped on the Bella train, and I’ve been following her progress in the years since.

Nowadays, she is all over the country jamming in acoustic showcases and taking lessons from the great players of the genre. She’s back in town this summer and has a concert lined up, which brings me to the point of today’s column. Go witness a rising star. Take a trip up Magnolia to Gold Hill, and catch the Bella Betts Trio performing later this month at the Gold Hill Inn.

The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28 ($7 at the door), and if you’ve never been to the Gold Hill Inn for a concert before, I urge you to give this one a go. Go for the beautiful music.

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