Commentators who like to keep things neatly slotted into place have struggled with Betty and The Boy, precisely because they defy simple categorisation. Though the quintet’s string-laden melodies occasionally anchor them in the territories of folk, bluegrass, or minimalist rock, they’re more at home in the cracks in-between.
It’s from these quirky, deeper, sometimes darker places that Betty Jaeger’s voice reaches up, takes you by the hand, and sweeps you along on an entrancing musical journey.
Hailing from Kalispell, Montana, her lyrics play with imagery from nature and are almost fairy tale in style with ever so delicate presentation.
The band has built a dedicated fan base as well as winning much admiration amongst prominent peers, including one of the leading figures in modern-day bluegrass – Woody Platt. The lead singer with top band The Steep Canyon Rangers has this to say:
“Her voice and the texture of her voice, along with the instrumentation, which is almost semi-classical in places, is so striking. Difficult to describe, this is a unique ensemble playing good music – it’s pretty spectacular!”
The journey all started in Montana when Betty met Josh Harvey (from Portland, Oregon) a few years back and they started to collaborate.
Josh is a multi-instrumentalist, has a writing style that is entirely at home alongside his musical partner and was the reason for the band’s name which emerged when they began to play together as a duo.
Now based out of Eugene, Oregon, the band that grew around them like an all-embracing vine, features violinist Michelle Whitlock who likes to play her instrument in a lower register to add an intriguing layer or color; classically-trained cellist Nanci McDonald who also plays ukulele and guitar, and Jon Conlon on bass, a deft hand in the studio from working on the garage rock and punk scene. He gets the credit for capturing tracks that have won them most attention from their stunning 7-track EP, Good Luck, such as Moth To A Light, Good Luck, and Babel.
Bettreena Jaeger Betty is a self-taught vocalist from Kalispell, Montana and writes a majority of the group’s more down-tempo and melodramatic melodies. Jaeger, the daughter of an english professor, was groomed to be the captivating vocalist and songwriter she has become. Her own lyrics are replete with animal and nature imagery, but it’s in a fairy tale more in the fashion of Grimm than Disney, with minimalistic guitar styling to accompany them. After meeting Josh Harvey in Montana a handful of years back, the two began collaborating their music into what as become Betty and the Boy today.
Josh Harvey Josh is a self-taught, multi-instrumentalist born in Portland, Oregon. He began playing upright bass and guitar during adolescence and pursued playing inherited instruments from his musical family members , such as mandolin, guitar, and banjo soon after he met Betty. The two began performing in the Northwest as a duo. Joshes songwriting capabilities are heavily influenced by post-punk undertones, and adds the more quirky side to Betty and the Boy.
Michelle Whitlock Michelle has been playing violin since the age of 3, and has trained through the Suzuki Program. Coming from a musical family from Fort Wayne, Indiana, she later pursued a music degree from the Indiana University. Her innate ability to play by ear, and her preference to play her instrument in a lower register creates a unique compliment to such whimsical tunes.
Nanci McDonald Nanci was classically trained in Niantic, Connecticut. Beginning her musical endeavors at age 5, she later studied with a music minor at the University of Vermont, and participated in various bands throughout Boston, Northern Arizona, San Francisco Bay, and currently in Eugene, Oregon. She currently also volunteers with the Eugene Symphony and teaches private cello lessons at Harmony Roadhouse. Nanci also sings and plays great ’round the campfire’ ukulele and guitar tunes.
Jon is also a self-taught bassist from Washington D.C. His vast experience in various up-tempo garage rock and punk bands throughout the Northwest has fueled his inspirations and talent for studio recording. Consequently, he has (in the comfort of his own living room!) recorded some of Betty and the Boy’s most successful tracks, such as, Moth to a Light, Good Luck, and Babel on their recently released album titled, Good Luck. Jon not only has ‘killer chops,’ he can also cook a mean set of BBQ pork ribs.