Review: BETTY Celebrates 38 Years Performing Together to cheers at Joe's Pub

The trio embraces being "fierce, feminist, and in-your-face"

By: Feb. 22, 2024
Review: BETTY Celebrates 38 Years Performing Together to cheers at Joe's Pub
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We’ve been entertained by many a Betty over the years– there's Betty White, Betty Buckley, Betty Grable, and of course, Betty Boop, to name a few.  But let's talk about BETTY, the trio that keeps going and going and going. Like the title character serenaded in Hello, Dolly!, the trio comprising the group called BETTY are “still glowing…still crowing….still going strong.”  These singer-musicians have been performing together for 38 years — quite an achievement! So cheers to Alyson Palmer (bass) and sisters Elizabeth Ziff (guitar) and Amy Ziff (cello).  And cheers indeed filled Joe’s Pub during their appearance there, as they were welcomed enthusiastically by a crowd which, judging by rousing reactions, was filled with longtime fans. There was a strong sense of familiarity as tales were told and old song faves were brought back, with history also revisited via several film clips.  It was on Valentine’s Day, a cue for some quips about relationships and banter with the audience ready, willing, and able to experience the eclectic material, memories, spunk and sass in a collective retrospective. Irreverent and energetic, the group has been described as being like “The Andrews Sisters on acid” and “bawdy, bodacious, and beautiful.”  Proud activists, they embrace being called “fierce, feminist, and in-your-face.” 

With amusing self-written songs and driving numbers, rocking out or being laid-back, getting into various music genres, and sometimes joined by other musicians, it’s a show full of twists and turns.  Reaching back to their first album, they charmed with one of its quirky tracks with the punny title, “Go Ahead and Split, Mr. Amoeba Man.”  More wordplay comes with the “Houdini” about a relationship ending when the man disappears and the woman manages to “escape with my pride.”  Such songs are fun, but arguably become less funny when the jokey lyric lines are repeated a few times.  The musicianship compensates, though, with strong playing and the trio’s strong suit of glorious, deft vocal harmonies. 

Other selections referenced everything from the “Underworld” to Anne Frank, with a cool encore plucked from the Beatles’ works, the atmospheric “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” With a mix of pride and self-deprecation, the women seemed to comfortably own the stage and their common history, reinforced by the film footage of them traveling and cavorting. Some numbers are dynamic, some are minor efforts stretched a bit thin.  Your mileage may vary.  It was a nostalgic “happening” reunion for some. The BETTY three are comfortable in their own skin, perhapls not ready, willing, or able to change their rebel personae to acquiesce to getting older.  There seems to be no interest in playing the AARP card and morphing into reserved “sensible seniors.” Age be damned! They can still come off as party gals having a blast and leading their own parade.    

You can find out more about BETTY, including news about their upcoming album which will be released this spring, on their website.

Find more upcoming shows at Joe's Pub on their website.