photo by Shannon Claire
by Michael Todd
Even though we leave the open spaces of western Nebraska, we still carry with us pieces of home. Whether it's the county number on our license plates, the way we sometimes let "wash" slip out as "warsh" or our vast knowledge of the distances between towns, we non-natives to the eastern side have our methods of discovering each other.
So it's really no surprise when Heather Berney, from Wolbach, Neb., shares her appreciation for my 308 area code. You can hear those open spaces in the songs she writes on guitar, songs that welcome Jordan Ellis's viola and violin, Nick Svoboda's doghouse bass, Spencer Powell's banjo, Sam Morris's dobro and various other instruments on "Hold Me Tight."
The forthcoming record by The Betties, to be released on July 3 at The Zoo Bar, is a "summery, fun, fancy-free kind of an album," Berney says. "It's pretty sweethearts-oriented," she says with a laugh. And while her songs are made to keep couples on the dance floor moving wherever their steps take them, there wasn't a whole lot of room for mistakes when recording.
"The way that the banjo sounds on the CD is pretty much the way it sounds when Spencer's right next to you: What you see is what you get," Berney says. "Whereas on a heavy rock album with a full sound, there's a lot of things you can hide behind."
Find the open spaces here and go to where you can see for miles:
Heather J. Berney: vocals, guitar and slide whistle
Jordan Ellis: violin and viola
Spencer Powell: banjo, vocals, kazoo, vibraslap, wood block and egg shaker
Nick Svoboda: doghouse bass
Sam Morris: dobro, mandolin and tambourine
Recorded and produced by Tim Kechely at Fuse Recordings in Lincoln, Neb. Mixed by Tim Kechely and Charlie Johnson at Fuse Recordings. Additional production by Sam Morris. Mastered by Doug Van Sloun at Focus Mastering in Omaha, Neb.
All songs written by Heather J. Berney. All arrangements by the band.
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. Now with the construction on I-80, he misses being able to drive to North Platte in three hours exactly. Reach him at email@example.com.