Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

The Blue Eyed Bettys
Florida Studio Theatre
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Nick Drivas: Love at First Sight

Sarah Hund, Ben Mackel, Kroy Presley,
and Daniel Emond

Photo by Alexandria Hill
Florida Studio Theatre welcomes back (well, sort of) The Blue Bettys, a group specializing in vocal harmonies in a bluegrass style. Featuring Ben Mackel on guitar (singing bass), Sarah Hund on fiddle (singing mostly in between the two men, although she does occasionally sail above Daniel), and Daniel Emond on banjo (singing tenor), with guest Kroy Presley on acoustic bass.

The three performers met at Florida Studio Theatre 3 1/2 years ago, doing a cabaret show called Poems, Prayers and Promises and decided to continue working together. The Blue Eyed Bettys' repertoire is drawn from many different styles and eras, with some originals. They make everything fit into their own unique sound.

The first set is mostly covers. Standouts include "I've Just Seen a Face" (Lennon and McCartney), "Sleep to Dream" (Fiona Apple), "Ain't No Sunshine" (Bill Withers), and "You Send Me"/"Stay." One of their best originals, "Free," which is about the joys of living life on the road doing what they love to do, is near the top of this act.

The second act leans more heavily on original tunes: "Rainbow in Elizabethtown", "Petunia Porcellini" (about Daniel's sister's guinea pig), "Virginia May," and "Song for Everyone" are among the standouts. My favorite song of the entire show, "Wild Ponies," by Jonathan Byrd is featured toward the end of this act.

The Blue Eyed Bettys' singing is incredible, with very tight harmonies, superb intonation as they slide from dominant seventh and ninth chords into the tonic resolution, and an all around really fine blend. The group has recorded two CDs and they have a third one in the works, due for release in the Fall.

While I am not always a strong fan of this genre of music, I am often a fan of any kind of vocal music done really well, and The Blue Eyed Bettys are wonderful to listen to and lots of fun to watch, as all have great presence.

Florida Studio Theatre presents The Blue Eyed Bettys through August 20, 2017, at the Court Cabaret 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota. For tickets and performance information, please call the box office at (941) 366-9000 or visit

Ben Mackel: Guitar and Bass
Sarah Hund: Fiddle and alto
Daniel Emond: Banjo and Tenor
Kroy Presley: Acoustic Bass

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