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The Better Halves Bring Smiles to Fiddlers Crossing, Aug. 12

Fiddlers Crossing

 

Jimmy Joe Natoli and Chrissie Natoli.

Do a Google search for The Better Halves and the first thing one will come across is the phrase, "Music handcrafted to make you smile". Considering all the stresses and strains in our daily lives these days, a smile, no matter how small or fleeting, is a thing of great value. Suddenly, our concerns are put into proper perspective and we find ourselves truly appreciating our lives the way they are given to us. Anything that elicits that kind of response should be considered great therapy, indeed! Chrissie and Jimmy Joe Natoli , aka The Better Halves, an Austin-based performing and songwriting duo, will create a roomful of smiles at Fiddlers Crossing on Friday, August 12 at 7 p.m.

With roots in country, bluegrass, folk, jazz and classical music, their funny, often touching duets, never fail to uplift and entertain audiences wherever they play. They are reminiscent, in some ways, of Johnny Cash and June Carter. Their rousing instrumentals, with influences from Chet Atkins to Johann Sebastian Bach even include a piece they play with all four hands on one guitar, a moment guaranteed to bring the house down.

Jimmy Joe Natoli attended both the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Guitar Institute of Technology. When a knee injury benched him from soccer at age 12, he took up the guitar. His dad had an old Harmony guitar in their Long Island home. A friend shared the riff from Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" with him and he was hooked. He put a poster of Jimi Hendrix on the ceiling above his bed for waking inspiration. When he was 16, his uncle gave him a record of Los Indios Tabajaras, an amazing Brazilian guitar duo. His world was opened to a whole new realm of music, and he still thrives on exploring all genres and nationalities of music. Since then, he has toured and done studio work with bands that range from artsy alternative rock to country. His songwriting has received recognition from the Kerrville Newfolk Contest (Regional Ballad Tree Selected Performer 2006), the Songwriters Serenade (Finalist 2011 and 2012), and NPR's Car Talk (who played his song, "Uncle Joe" in 2007.)

Chrissie spent her childhood writing poems. She put them to music when she picked up the guitar as an undergraduate student at Penn State. Years later she met fellow musician, Alison Lumley. The two formed the duo, Avenue Elle. Chrissie was looking for a gig at a farmers market in Texas where Jimmy Joe ,now a Texan, was booking the music. It wasn't long until Chrissieand Jimmy Joe began jamming together, playing music throughout central Texas, and eventually marrying with a musical wedding that included their now recorded song, "Wedding Vows." In the meantime, Chrissie and Alison have continued making music together, which earned them an appearance in the Kerrville Newfolk Competition and on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion," both in 2012.

The Better Halves completed their first EP in early 2009 and began touring throughout the country later that year. Their third CD is compilation of children's songs written over the years of Jimmy Joe's school bus driving career and Chrissie's time as amother. This CD, called Playing in the Dirt, features a variety of songs, thoughtfully produced with fun instruments, ranging from steel pan to the saw. When they play children's shows, they call themselves Mr. Bus Driver Man Sir and Her.

They happily continue teaching songwriting classes to children and Alzheimer groups, performing classical music for wedding ceremonies, delighting children and parents with their kids tunes, playing Better Halves songs in venues fromTexas to Alaska, and Maine to Mexico, and, above all, making their audiences smile!

For video samples and more information, go to: http://www.thebetterhalvesmusic.com or fiddlerscrossing.com

Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson St., Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, at Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky's Barbershop, or online through Fiddlerscrossing.com. Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. sharp.

On the horizon: Mike Beck, Steve Spurgin, James Lee Stanley, C. Daniel Boling, Chris Proctor.

 
 

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