The holidays offer a chance to catch up with old friends, and fans of the Flathead music scene are going to have the opportunity to reunite with Bettreena “Betty” Jaeger and Josh Harvey once again.
After a year away, Betty and the Boy are making their way back home for a Dec. 30 concert at The Boiler Room in Kalispell. It’s the first show they will play locally as a band since moving and making considerable strides as musicians in Eugene, Ore.
They are scheduled to play at 6:30 p.m. with Marshall McLean and Kati O’Toole.
Moving to Oregon and making a name for themselves in a major college town has been a challenge, Jaeger and Harvey conceded, but they have made notable progress in the past year.
With so many musical acts to compete with, playing one or two shows weekly is an accomplishment, Harvey said. So is hearing their music on the local radio stations.
“It took us a long time to get into the venues there,” Harvey said. “You have to work a lot, but it’s been really good. It keeps getting better every month or two.”
They’ve also been playing up and down the Oregon coast, as well as Spokane, Wash., he said.
Along with breaking into the music scene, they’ve also added an upright bass player, Jon Conlon, and a violinist, Michelle Whitlock, to the band. The additional instruments give their music more depth and complexity, Jaeger said, changing it up a bit from the minimalist sets Flathead fans might be used to.
And, as another accomplishment, the band finished its first album, “Sad Songs & Waltzes,” which will be available online on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby in January.
Betty and the Boy also scored a sponsorship from Bend, Ore.-based Breedlove Guitars and K&K Sound, a company that makes pick-ups for acoustic instruments.
“It helps us out, we wouldn’t be able to have some of the instruments that we have,” Harvey said.
The sponsorships also come in handy when the company hosts a folk festival, as Breedlove is doing in Sisters, Ore., next fall.
Jaeger, 22, and Harvey, 27, began their joint musical venture at Red’s Wines and Blues in Kalispell, when they sang together at an open mic session. They realized they sounded pretty good together, Harvey said, so they decided to keep playing.
Eventually, they started writing songs for the live sessions, and soon their clear vocals and simple string accompaniment developed a following. Local musician Christian Johnson was integral in their journey from open mic performers to serious musicians, Harvey said.
“Christian took us under his wing and gave us some direction,” he said.
Deciding to pursue their music, Jaeger and Harvey left the valley. Harvey is confident their sound would have evolved regardless of the move, but logistically, it made sense.
“I don’t think I ever had the thought that we weren’t going to do anything,” Harvey said. “We didn’t move for our music. We moved because the valley is kind of small and it’s expensive to travel places. It’s nice to come back and be able to say, ‘Hey, we’ve done a lot.’ But I think we would have done that regardless.”
While the idea of coming home with some success under their belts is uplifting, Jaeger said it can take a little while to wrap her head around the sudden change of being largely unknown in Oregon to having a staunch fan base in Kalispell.
“It’s a little bit hard; it’s a little bit more comfy to go home,” Jaeger said. “Everybody you know is there and then you come back (to Eugene) and you’re completely anonymous.”
The obscurity is good, she said, because it makes the band concentrate on their craft. And despite the steps toward success that they’ve already taken, Jaeger noted that every member of the band has at least a part-time job, if not a full-time gig, other than playing music.
Betty and the Boy is, essentially, “another part-time job that pays much, much, much less,” she said.
But it’s a job they love. Harvey explained it as being a starving artist for the sake of art, something that most audiences can appreciate because the music comes from a generous and honest place.
Would it be helpful to be able to survive on their music alone? Sure, he says, but that is not the band’s ultimate goal.
“It’s to make good music and have fun doing it,” Harvey said.
The show at The Boiler Room will be all about music and having fun, Jaeger said. It will be a good time to sit back and enjoy an intimate show with quality musicians, she added.
“They should expect greatness,” he said. “They should expect some good honest true music.”
Betty and the Boy play at The Boiler Room in Kalispell on Dec. 30 at 6:30 p.m. The show costs $5 at the door. For more information on the band, visit http://www.myspace.com/bettreenajaegermusic.
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