I have to admit that I have been a fan following The Blue Eyed Betty’s since they first started playing in New York City. Having met doing theatre in Florida, Ben Mackel, Sarah Hund, and Daniel Emond formed a trio to showcase all of their musical strengths and their baby blues. I call what they do “Theatrical Bluegrass.” Tonight they were joined by Evan Cannon on the double and kicked off their Spring tour on Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 2.
Starting with sound check, you can tell you were in for a treat when the trio started harmonizing and riffing as they were testing their respective microphones. They opened their set with a rousing version of the Beatles’ classic Why Don’t We Do It In The Road. Right off the bat we notice tight harmonies and the wailing vocals from Sarah Hund (who also plays a killer fiddle). They followed the cover up with an original that talks about the band’s experience on the road, Free. So many tunes tonight, including Free, feature tight harmonies so I’m not going to mention it on every track I review – they are great and it’s the strength of three very obviously trained singers.
Later in the set we were treated to a beautiful cover of Fiona Apple’s Sleep To Dream. The Blue Eyed Betty’s new single Looney Blues talks of a relationship ending but with guitarist Mackel’s chipper whistling you couldn’t help to smile about the situation. Midway through the set the band took a moment to talk about the current state of affairs in the USA with Hund commenting on her printed tee shirt reading “Science” and then the cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s America. This was a powerful moment and I love when artists use their platform to speak about the times – this is what art is for.
All three members of the band are also songwriters but the quirky banjo player Daniel Emond takes credit for the whimsical Petunia Porcelllini, about his pet guinea pig. The highlight of the night was another cover song. This time an obscure song from a North Carolina artist called Wild Ponies. It’s a moving ballad and the trio brought the large crowd to silence and tears. This song also showcased just how versatile the group is and Emond’s vibrato truly shined. Ending the late set was a new song called Kentucky Banshee which was fun and funky and gave us a little gospel feel and showcased just how low Ben can go (his bass tones were epic).
All in all this is a band to watch. I have never not had a smile on my face watching them perform. You want to sing along and go hang out with them when they are through. They have two albums available and are going on a spring tour.
Check out more at www.theblueeyedbettys.com.