Keith Betti
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Keith Betti

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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For all the bittersweet twang and folksy melodies on singer/songwriter Keith Betti’s latest album,?Company Loves Misery, the ghost of George Harrison haunts the premises like no other. Harrison isn’t named-checked on Betti’s biography and nor is he mentioned on his store page.?

Nevertheless, the soaring melodies of “Found a Love” and the sunny warmth of “It’s a Long Way Down” are marked with Harrison’s fingerprints. Being compared to one of the Beatles is certainly high praise, but Betti deserves it.?

The Chicago-based artist has produced one of the year’s most impressive records, a heartfelt collection of sharply written Americana. I recently interviewed Betti about his influences and career path as an independent musician.

Q:? You're a huge fan of Townes Van Zandt. What is it about his music that influenced you? What was your introduction to his work?

A: It really seemed like his music found me more than I found it. I had been coming off some hard times about three or four years ago and hadn’t really been working on any music in a while. I already had a small handful of tunes by him and began to go a little deeper into his catalog. When I came across?Live at The Old Quarter,?Houston, TexasI was just blown away. This all came at a time when I creatively felt like a compass without a needle. Just no real direction and going in circles with what to do next. His songs definitely got me inspired and focused.

Q:? Being a musician is a tough career choice. What made you decide to do it?

A: Being a musician is more of a lifestyle than a career for me. I think it’s just art, and I don’t even see it as an option. Writers got to write, painters got to paint, that kind of thing. This album was something I had to do.

Q: ?Growing up, was alt-country your music of choice? Where did you start with your musical passions, and how did Americana enter the picture?

A: Actually if you would’ve told me five years ago that I’d be making a full album along these lines, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I was really into making rock so this was quite the change in pace. This new direction for me had been creeping in over the years to some degree. I’ve always been a big fan of the Band, the Grateful Dead, and Bob Dylan. Neil Young and Ryan Adams have become recent favorites, too. So it’s a good mixture of artists that are making up my influences in these categories.

Q:? How would you describe the alt-country scene in Chicago? Does it cross over into Chicago blues?

A: I don’t really think there’s much of a scene here along those lines. As a matter of fact I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have gone farther against the grain on this as to what other local bands or my friends are doing. I’m not saying I’m the only guy or anything but it’s pretty few and far between. Also, outside of Jeff Tweedy and John Prine I can’t really think of any others to come out of Chicago and be big in these genres. I definitely think there’s some great cross over potential with the blues. Maybe not Chicago blues specifically but blues in general. Everything we’re talking about here is pretty much made up from blues, folk, and country. One of Townes’ biggest influences was Lightnin' Hopkins. The Band had Sonny Boy Williamson. I got into music playing blues guitar and still to this day love the Chess recordings that were done in this city, especially Muddy Waters and Little Walter.?(Keith Betti will be celebrating his new album with a CD release party at the Horseshoe in Chicago, Illinois on May 26 at 8 p.m.)
- No Depression


Discography

Company Loves Misery - 2012
Prelude (KB) - 2004

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