Jeff Clark, of STOMP AND STAMMER, has called the BareKnuckle Betties “a spirited quintet of comely cowgirls.” They call their approach “high-heel stomp honky tonk music.” For sure, the ensemble may be catching eyes for their prettiness in cowboy boots, but once they start strumming and singing, they’re even more exciting to the ears. You can decide for yourself at the Star Bar on Saturday night in a triple-header gig also featuring bassist Joel Hamilton and Shovels and Rope, a dynamic duo of dueling guitars featuring Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst whose influences range from Woody Guthrie to The Cramps.
While the Betties as a band may be new to Atlanta’s Redneck Underground and bluegrass scenes, its line-up includes some familiar names. Julea Thomerson (banjo, acoustic guitar, rubboard, vocals) has collaborated with some of the best male blues and roots musicians in the city, including Bill Sheffield, Charlie Wooton and Nathan Nelson and plays with Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck about ever other month. Jennifer Leavey (Telecaster/vocals) was guitarist for legendary Atlanta all-girl garage rock band Catfight! Carolynn Ladd (drums/cans/harmonica) is a former Blast-Off Burlesque member and has played with Uncle Daddy and the Kissin’ Cousins. Kyra Key (fiddle/mandolin) also strums with Marietta psychedelic country band Rolling Nowhere. Andy Deaver (upright bass/clawhammer banjo) plays with vintage ’20s country band the Georgia Crackers, has a degree in modern dance, and rumor has it she has won at least one award for Appalachian old-time flat-foot dancing.
ATLRetro recently caught up with Julea to find out the band’s back story, get a sneak preview of Saturday’s Star Bar show and their debut EP, DIE BABY DIE, and help her convince you to like the BareKnuckle Betties Facebook page so they can have 500 likes by this Saturday’s show. I think she mentioned something about a complimentary table dance?
How did you cowgirls find each other and become a band?
Well, Andy Deaver, our bass player, is the gal who originally rounded all of us up. She found our drummer at the Masquerade one night and found me in the back of the Northside Tavern a few nights later after my pal Nate, of Nathan Nelson and his Entertainment Crackers, introduced us. We got to talking, and I found out Andy was interested in forming an all-female roots project. The more she talked to me about her ideas, the more I realized my songs would be the perfect fit for what she had in mind, and we ended up getting together a few weeks later at her house to all meet each other and run through some tunes.
We originally started with myself, Andy, Carolynn Ladd of Uncle Daddy and the Kissin’ Cousins, Cameron Federal of the Little Country Giants and Leah Calvert of the Dappled Grays. Cameron and Leah both have extremely successful bands and unfortunately couldn’t continue along with us, so we put the word out for some bad-ass guitar playing and fiddling ladies. From there, we ended up finding Jennifer Leavey and Kyra Key, who just could not have possibly been cooler chicks or fit more perfectly with the sound we were looking for. That’s how I feel about everybody in the band though. My girls are the bee’s knees. I reckon I ended up getting pretty damn lucky running into Andy and Nate at Northside Tavern that night.
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