Betty Widerski

Betty Widerski

 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
SoloRockNew Age

Betty uses 4, 5 6-string violins to bring her distinctive energy flair to Rock, Pop, Punk, Country, Folk, Classical, Latin, World, Jazz bands and session tracks. Her solo improv looping project Reverse Polish Notation showcases her original compositions songs.

Band Press

"Individuality...On Sale!" music commission – Pyg, commissioning artist

"I'm so excited by what you've done with the song! The tango is absolutely lovely without being stiffly faithful to the original and "Pesadilla En Tus Ojos" playfully subverts loveliness with its electronic intervention. I can't tell you how delighted I am by what you've done."

Local RPM Challenge Participants – The Boston Herald

"Subterra, recorded by Reverse Polish Notation (real name: Betty Widerski), is an unfussy and hypnotic number consisting of aching, haunting violin (Widerski plays the electric, five-string) and a simple drum loop." - Ryan Foley

Interview - The Milling Gowns - August 2008 – Jeff Haynes - http://jeffhaynes.wordpress.com/

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE

They're happy. Trust me.

In fact, these days the members of The Milling Gowns might be downright elated. After years of hard work, writing, rewriting, and arranging -- not to mention multiple recording sessions stretched out over many months -- their self-produced CD Diving Bell Shallows is done. And they're celebrating.

The release party for the band's first full-length CD is Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, beginning with a performance by Dan Blakeslee, followed by The Milling Gowns. Just know -- as Milling Gowns' fans are well aware -- that despite the celebratory atmosphere, the music may not inspire anyone to jump up and down with glee.

"Gloom pop minus guitar." Those are the four words down to which drummer Allen Esser has boiled the band's unique sound. Other descriptions have included melancholy, melodramatic, somber, sad and soulful.

Interestingly, the style contradicts their personalities. They laugh and joke like anyone else -- I've witnessed this firsthand. But in making their music, they gravitate toward the sadder, darker side of life.

When it comes to music, "I love the dark stuff," said pianist Sharon Crumrine. She and vocalist M. build the songs around M.'s words and melodies, specifically aiming to create mood and feeling. That task is then passed on to viola player Betty Widerski and Allen, who add their own textures and stylings to the tunes.

The result is something like an organic, or "unplugged" version of alternative bands from 20 to 30 years ago. Listening to M. sing, you can hear the influence of bands like The Smiths and Echo & The Bunnymen.

"I've always used music as a catharsis. It's how I've channeled a lot of things," M. said. "I can turn something I didn't know what to do with into a song."

OK, so the songs can help you process difficult issues and get them out of your system. But no happy tunes?

"If you have something happy happen, maybe you don't need to get rid of it," M. said with a laugh.

See? The guy's funny.

Alfred Hitchcock liked making scary movies. Rodney Dangerfield liked making comedies. And whether you call their songs gloomy, melancholy or sad -- it's what The Milling Gowns like doing.

"We do this because we want to and because we need to," Betty said.

Allen agreed.

"You need to please yourself. That's the bottom line," he said.

Live Review - The Gobshites - Harpoon St. Patrick's Festival March 2007 – The Patriot Ledger (Quincy MA)

All eyes turned on Betty Widerski as she fiddled furiously and with unshakable energy for the local Celtic punk band The Gobshites. Her power at this recent St. Patrick’s Day festival in Boston, complemented by the banjo, mandolin and accordion around her - and the pint-chugging audience in front of her - made for the kind of Emerald Isle jam session that gets an Irish music novice hooked."

- Kaitlin Keane, March 15 2007, in the article IRISH SPRING - Boston in March is the place for Celtic music

Live Review - The Gobshites - Kennedy's Midtown Feb 2007 – Radio Rebel Gael

"i really enjoyed The Gobshites, a band whose only aim and motivation is to drink to excess and play some rowdy and boisterous Drunken Paddy Punk Rock. Not your typical "Drunken Paddy Punk" outfit, despite the fact that most of the members all look like drunken frat boys on a 5 day pub crawl sprawl, they are complemented with a brilliant fiddler, Betty Widerski, who looks like the band's mother, but has the moxie to play and tour with the lads and who can't give this woman a lot of credit for being able to party and play with this drunken band of rogues?"

Live Review - The Gobshites - Harpoon St. Patrick's Festival March 2007 – The Patriot Ledger (Quincy MA)

All eyes turned on Betty Widerski as she fiddled furiously and with unshakable energy for the local Celtic punk band The Gobshites. Her power at this recent St. Patrick’s Day festival in Boston, complemented by the banjo, mandolin and accordion around her - and the pint-chugging audience in front of her - made for the kind of Emerald Isle jam session that gets an Irish music novice hooked."

- Kaitlin Keane, March 15 2007, in the article IRISH SPRING - Boston in March is the place for Celtic music

Live Review - Rev. Bob & the Darkness - Feb 2007 – Julia Hughes

"I think Saturday's show was the strongest yet, largely due to the ridiculous talent of fiddle all-star Betty. As my favorite local bartender says, "Holy Hannah!" I am willing to get past the stereotype of a roots band covering "Devil Went Down to Georgia," solely based on her performance. She sounded better than the recording. Seriously."

Live Review - Rev. Bob & the Darkness - Feb 2007 – Julia Hughes

"I think Saturday's show was the strongest yet, largely due to the ridiculous talent of fiddle all-star Betty. As my favorite local bartender says, "Holy Hannah!" I am willing to get past the stereotype of a roots band covering "Devil Went Down to Georgia," solely based on her performance. She sounded better than the recording. Seriously."

CD Review - Grubstake, "Dynamite & Other Inventions – Newt Records (UK)

"For this album mastermind Pat McHugh brought in several Boston area music veterans to help interpret his increasingly complex songs: Chris Brokaw (ex-Come), James Apt (ex-Six Finger Satellite), Betty Widerski (Ad Frank, Paul Kelley Orchestra), & Chilly Kurtz (Caged Heat)."

CD Review - Grubstake, "Dynamite & Other Inventions – Newt Records (UK)

"For this album mastermind Pat McHugh brought in several Boston area music veterans to help interpret his increasingly complex songs: Chris Brokaw (ex-Come), James Apt (ex-Six Finger Satellite), Betty Widerski (Ad Frank, Paul Kelley Orchestra), & Chilly Kurtz (Caged Heat)."

Paula Kelley CD Listening Party - Pop String Quartet Arrangements by The String Sluts – Paula Kelley

"The string quartet did an astonishing job. Thanks so much for the time you put into doing the arrangements. You all sounded lovely and I think because of you people may now actually believe that I'm a classy broad!"

Paula Kelley CD Listening Party - Pop String Quartet Arrangements by The String Sluts – Paula Kelley

"The string quartet did an astonishing job. Thanks so much for the time you put into doing the arrangements. You all sounded lovely and I think because of you people may now actually believe that I'm a classy broad!"

CD review - The Gobshites, "Get Bombed" - May 2007 – Askew Reviews

"Throughout the cd, Betty Widerski nicely wraps it all together with her magnificent fiddle" - Denis Sheehan

CD review - The Gobshites, "Get Bombed" - May 2007 – Askew Reviews

"Throughout the cd, Betty Widerski nicely wraps it all together with her magnificent fiddle" - Denis Sheehan

CD Review - Ginger Ibex: "Firefly", Oct 2009 – Wildy's World

Ginger Ibex - Firefly
2009, Ginger Ibex

My Mom used to tell me to be careful what I wish for, because sometimes wishes come true. Of course, that's not always such a bad thing. A year or so ago I reviewed a Cambridge, Massachusetts band called The Milling Gowns, reflecting that I didn't enjoy the singer all that much but could listen to the players behind him all day long. Whether by chance or machination I got my chance. Sharon Crumrine and Betty Widerski soon left The Milling Gowns and Ginger Ibex was born. Pianist Crumrine spins wondrous musical yarns ranging from Rock to Classical, Impressionist to Tango and even blending in some sounds from the Middle East. All of this is done with the capable assistance of Widerski, who helps to lend texture and layers to the piano sound on Ginger Ibex' debut album, Firefly, set for release on October 24, 2009.

Firefly opens with the title track, arranged for piano, strings and percussion. The song represents the turmoil of the coming of night in a manner both beautiful and mysterious. Middle Eastern influences crowd the darkness for the first 1:40, until a sudden shift occurs, and a light piano passage with strings introduces the light of the firefly; pushing all turmoil back into the darkness from whence it came. When the darkness theme returns there is a lighter, less burdened quality to it until the closes on a crescendo of activity that becomes the night. The piece plays like a movement from a Joffrey ballet. Prelude To Dust For Kissers plays like a movie soundtrack piece. There is real movement in the tune, but it sits back in your mind as it unveils a storyline you can't quite catch without the visual to go with it. The composition is there enough to guide your attention but subtle enough not to grab it.

October Tango plays off piano, guitar and viola against one another in a gorgeous and dark composition that may speak as much to a stage of life as a time of year. The drama here is high but hidden, as if a very personal story unfolds in the song. As a listener I greatly enjoyed the action and movement in February, although February Intro felt too pensive and drawn out. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the album is the instrumental cover of Britney Spears' Toxic. The song is presented in dynamic fashion and is more enjoyable than the original. On Binnorie, Ginger Ibex goes for a more Baroque feel, with Crumrine flying solo or minimally accompanied for much of the piece. September Tango may be even better than its October colleague, imbued with the energy of a dervish and a dark, urgent melody line that sucks the listener in for the duration. Ginger Ibex closes things out with the Schubert-styled waltz For All The Unborn Children. There's a sense of hope that flows through Sharon Crumrine's fingers on this tune that emanates from the piano and even plays through on the CD. The composition and performance here are fine.

Ginger Ibex mixes and melds musical styles on Firefly in a fashion that is both surprising and wildly successful. This is true modern classical music, incorporating elements from Middle Eastern music, Rock N Roll, Tango and Impressionist musical styles. Firefly has enough classical relevance to appeal to the stuffiest of music aficionados, but enough modern touch to sound current and alive. Ginger Ibex has done themselves proud.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

CD Review - Ginger Ibex: "Firefly", Oct 2009 – Wildy's World

Ginger Ibex - Firefly
2009, Ginger Ibex

My Mom used to tell me to be careful what I wish for, because sometimes wishes come true. Of course, that's not always such a bad thing. A year or so ago I reviewed a Cambridge, Massachusetts band called The Milling Gowns, reflecting that I didn't enjoy the singer all that much but could listen to the players behind him all day long. Whether by chance or machination I got my chance. Sharon Crumrine and Betty Widerski soon left The Milling Gowns and Ginger Ibex was born. Pianist Crumrine spins wondrous musical yarns ranging from Rock to Classical, Impressionist to Tango and even blending in some sounds from the Middle East. All of this is done with the capable assistance of Widerski, who helps to lend texture and layers to the piano sound on Ginger Ibex' debut album, Firefly, set for release on October 24, 2009.

Firefly opens with the title track, arranged for piano, strings and percussion. The song represents the turmoil of the coming of night in a manner both beautiful and mysterious. Middle Eastern influences crowd the darkness for the first 1:40, until a sudden shift occurs, and a light piano passage with strings introduces the light of the firefly; pushing all turmoil back into the darkness from whence it came. When the darkness theme returns there is a lighter, less burdened quality to it until the closes on a crescendo of activity that becomes the night. The piece plays like a movement from a Joffrey ballet. Prelude To Dust For Kissers plays like a movie soundtrack piece. There is real movement in the tune, but it sits back in your mind as it unveils a storyline you can't quite catch without the visual to go with it. The composition is there enough to guide your attention but subtle enough not to grab it.

October Tango plays off piano, guitar and viola against one another in a gorgeous and dark composition that may speak as much to a stage of life as a time of year. The drama here is high but hidden, as if a very personal story unfolds in the song. As a listener I greatly enjoyed the action and movement in February, although February Intro felt too pensive and drawn out. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the album is the instrumental cover of Britney Spears' Toxic. The song is presented in dynamic fashion and is more enjoyable than the original. On Binnorie, Ginger Ibex goes for a more Baroque feel, with Crumrine flying solo or minimally accompanied for much of the piece. September Tango may be even better than its October colleague, imbued with the energy of a dervish and a dark, urgent melody line that sucks the listener in for the duration. Ginger Ibex closes things out with the Schubert-styled waltz For All The Unborn Children. There's a sense of hope that flows through Sharon Crumrine's fingers on this tune that emanates from the piano and even plays through on the CD. The composition and performance here are fine.

Ginger Ibex mixes and melds musical styles on Firefly in a fashion that is both surprising and wildly successful. This is true modern classical music, incorporating elements from Middle Eastern music, Rock N Roll, Tango and Impressionist musical styles. Firefly has enough classical relevance to appeal to the stuffiest of music aficionados, but enough modern touch to sound current and alive. Ginger Ibex has done themselves proud.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)