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Thursday October 30th 2014

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Double Down with Betsy Badwater

By Jessica Forbes

Pensacola’s own blues-soul-rockabilly specialist Betsy Badwater spent much of the first half of 2014 raising funds for local flood relief, writing new songs and honing her vocal chops even further. To mark the start of a new season and fall tour, Badwater will play two hometown shows, one on Friday, Aug. 1 at Vinyl Music Hall and another at The Handlebar on Saturday, Aug. 2.

“The Handlebar and Vinyl Music Hall are two very important and very different venues here in Pensacola,” Badwater explained of the idea behind back-to-back shows. “I love and appreciate both atmospheres and appreciate all the love and support I have enjoyed from both venues. My friends from five states are coming to celebrate another year of music and friendship, and I couldn’t choose one group of people or atmosphere over the other.

“I think both shows are going to be very unique and special,” she added.

Badwater’s previous tour and/or recording mates, Miss Izzy Cox from Austin—whose Facebook genre listing summarizes her style as “outlaw Americana hellbilly steampunk anarchist crooner”—and the fellow Americana-focused Denton Hatcher & The Soapbox Blues, hailing from Baton Rouge, will open at each Pensacola show. The three sharing a bill is becoming a tradition of sorts for the friends and collaborators who met several years ago and haven’t really shaken each other since.

In August 2013, Badwater released her third album, “Hometown Money,” and embarked on a breakneck, one-and-a-half month, 52-date tour across the South with Cox, Hatcher and his band mates Scott Sibley and Cody Ruth. The lineup worked out, as Hatcher and Sibley played on “Hometown Money,” recorded at The Music Shed Recording Studio in New Orleans.

“I write primarily in the winter time and travel in the summer, but I’m always into something,” Badwater told the IN.

“If I learned anything about myself on last year’s summer tour…it’s that I am made for the road. I love it,” Badwater stated.  “I’ll definitely do a long run again next year, but I’m booked for months at Black Sparrow Tattoo Studio where I work here in town, so this year we are going to do a bit lighter run this summer.”

After the Pensacola opener, Badwater will hit the road for a string of one-man-band (OMB) shows with Cox—who remembered their past experiences as women on the road together, “We carried claw-hammers and knives and looked out for each other like very quiet bulldogs. It was constantly amusing that we were taken for either damsels or devils, depending on the onlooker”—interspersed with appearances at regional festivals.

While Badwater is known to OMB-it on the distant road (she sings and plays guitar and a tambourine-topped bass drum simultaneously), occasionally a rotating cast of musicians known as The Hillbilly Chrome take the stage with her, which will be the case at both the Vinyl and The Handlebar shows. The current lineup of The Hillbilly Chrome is J.T. Tereszkiewicz on rhythm guitar, Jordan Kimsey on slide resonator and Ashelea Penquite on percussion.

Like her tour mates, Badwater has nothing but love for The Hillbilly Chrome members, calling Kimsey, “one of the most talented slide guitar players I have ever encountered” and Ashelea, “a very old, dear friend who accompanied me on tour several years ago on upright bass. I’m proud to have her smile and skills in the rhythm section.”

Of guitarist Tereszkiewicz, Badwater stated: “I credit him with setting me free from guitar for about 6 months so that I could focus on and grow my vocal instrument beyond my dreams.”  The two also wrote 10 songs together after Badwater’s fall 2013 tour, a happening that is part of a writing-and-touring cycle she’s worked to set after 15 years of performing. “I’ve been trying to manifest this flow for about 5 years now, and it’s finally starting to happen” she said.

“In all of my shows, I want to inspire my friends out there listening to participate with me,” she stated. “I choose songs that invite them to laugh, cry, dance, feel some kind of holy spirit, get just plain angry, be quietly honest, and find a heartbeat of forgiveness within themselves, and of course, I’m all about the love—falling in love with ourselves, everyone in the room, the stranger next to you, being in love with a moment.”

BETSY BADWATER AT VINYL MUSIC HALL
WHAT: Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome with Miss Izzy Cox and Denton Hatcher & The Soapbox Blues
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST: $5
INFO: vinylmusichall.com

BETSY BADWATER AT THE HANDLEBAR
WHAT: Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome with Miss Izzy Cox and Denton Hatcher & The Soapbox Blues
WHEN: 9:45 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2
WHERE: The Handlebar
COST: $5
INFO: pensacolahandlebar.com