Bette Smith garnered great praise when her album The Good, the Bad, and the Bette was released in the fall of 2020. Now with concerts returning at last, audiences can experience the sassy, soulful singer live and see why Smith is being compared to Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and the Bettys (Davis and Wright).
Launching June 24, Smith’s summer tour will find her performing across the Midwest and the Northeast. After opening for blues-rock guitar ace Kenny Wayne Shepherd on the first few dates, Smith will then headline a run of shows, including a Radio Woodstock Sunset Sessions Concert on July 9, and will appear at the Bayfront Blues Festival on August 13. In late August, Smith is the opening act for a set of shows with the acclaimed Southern rockers the Drive-By Truckers.
Her Drive-By Trucker’s pairing is a natural one since the band’s bassist Matt Patton co-produced The Good, the Bad, and the Bette with his Dial Back Sound Studio co-owner, engineer/drummer Bronson Tew. Additionally, DBT’s Patterson Hood appears on the album as do North Mississippi Allstar Luther Dickinson and Squirrel Nut Zippers’ Jimbo Mathus (who produced Smith’s debut album, Jetlagger).
Smith broke out big with Jetlagger, which was lauded by NPR, Paste, Billboard, and The New York Times. MOJO proclaimed it “an incredible debut from the next big-voiced soul sensation out of Brooklyn,” while American Songwriter hailed Smith as “swaggering proof that there is nothing dated about soulful rock and roll sung with attitude, defiance, and a take-no-prisoners aesthetic.”
The Good, the Bad, and the Bette builds upon Jetlagger’s captivating rock/soul/gospel sound, with Patton succeeding in his desire to go deeper into Smith’s rock side. As PopMatters raved, “this album leaves no doubt that Smith is a formidable talent who can turn even the most heartfelt ballad into a soul-razing rocker.” Under the Radar similarly observed that the release takes “rugged combination of southern soul, gospel, and rock ’n’ roll … to new heights.”
Released by Ruf Records, the album also is a highly personal one for Smith as her songs address the pain of her childhood traumas while also expressing her life-affirming “I once was lost but now I’m found’ belief. As Smith explains, “Often people think I’m very confident and strong but they don’t know I’ve faced many obstacles and traumas I fought hard to overcome.”
Smith finds performing to a be a very spiritual experience, and relishes the opportunity to sing for live audiences again. “It’s amazing, like a dream come true,” she reveals. “The fans are like family. I feel very loved. I went through all of this so I could sing and, now that I can sing, I’m finding the love that I’ve been looking for all my life.”
Roundly heralded as “a major new voice in soul music,” Smith has been living up to the accolades for her two majestic albums and rousing live performances. The Good, the Bad, and the Bette, like Jetlagger, topped the Roots Music Report’s Blues Soul Album chart, and Smith also has earned a nomination this year for the Living Blues Awards’ Female Artist of the Year.
Thurs., June 24 OSHKOSH, WI Waterfest Concert Series at Leach Amphitheater (supporting Kenny Wayne Shepherd)
Fri., June 25 DUBUQUE, IA Q Casino: Backwaters Stage (supporting Kenny Wayne Shepherd)
Sat., June 26 SIOUX CITY, IA Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City: Anthem (supporting Kenny Wayne Shepherd)
Fri., July 9 SAUGERTIES, NY Radio Woodstock’s Sunset Sessions Concert Series at Opus 40
Tues., Aug. 10 EVANSTON / CHICAGO, IL S.P.A.C.E.
Thurs., Aug. 12 MILWAUKEE, WI Shank Hall
Fri., Aug. 13 DULUTH, MN Bayfront Blues Festival
Sat., Aug. 14 MINNEAPOLIS, MN Dakota
Sun., Aug. 15 MADISON, WI High Noon Saloon
Fri., Aug. 27 BALTIMORE, MD Rams Head Live (supporting Drive-By Truckers)
Sat., Aug. 28 NEW HAVEN, CT College Street Music Hall (supporting Drive-By Truckers)
Tues., Aug. 31 HARRISBURG, PA Sunoco Performance Theater at Whitaker Center (supporting Drive-By Truckers)
Thurs., Sept 2 CINCINNATI, OH Riverfront Live (supporting Drive-By Truckers)