You can buy a maximum of 10 tickets for this event
Event InformationBorn and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Bette Smith reconnected with her musical roots in Memphis and Mississippi – and fulfilled a promise to her late brother in the process. Recording her debut full-length album in Mississippi brought her to the roots of the gospel she sang in the church and the soul music she heard on the block on hot summer nights music growing up on the corner of Nostrand and Fulton. The powerful ‘Jetlagger’ comes out September 29 on Big Legal Mess, a Fat Possum subsidiary. “The south came to me and grabbed me and pulled me down there. The southern migration came up and got me. My neighbors in Bed-Stuy influenced me,” she says.
She recalls that Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn was a very different place when she was growing up. “It was rough back then!,” she exclaims. “There was lots of gang activity. One gang came after my brother and my dad came out with a lead pipe to protect him. It was really hairy. My older brother Junior protected me from all of that. He would intimidate all of the other guys.”
She owes even more to Junior. Several years ago, on his deathbed suffering from kidney failure, he made her promise not to give up on a career as a singer. Those last days of his, she sang while he tapped his foot on the hospital bed at Kings County Hospital. “I didn’t know how else to comfort him,” she recalls. He told her, “I want you to sing; don’t give up” and she’s kept that promise, playing gigs from One Penn Plaza in New York to the Boogie Woogie Festival in Brussels, Belgium, always wearing yellow on stage to honor him. “It’s all for Junior now,” she affirms.
Jimbo Mathus produced the album at Water Valley’s Dial Back Sound and sent roughs to Bruce Watson, who swiftly signed Smith on for a full-length. He’s become a secret weapon for Fat Possum and Big Legal Mess Records; in addition to being a solo artist and a founding member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mathus has also produced Shinyribs, Luther Dickinson, The Seratones, and played on records by Valerie June, Buddy Guy, and Elvis Costello. “You exceeded all expectations,” Mathus told her.
The trip was also Smith’s first to the deep south. She recalls, “It took me out of my comfort zone. I got lost in a swamp one time and kind of freaked out! I’m a quintessential city girl.”
Smith beams when talking about the sessions. “It was really wonderful. Everything was recorded live. I felt like I was Tina Turner and Etta James. I do well when I’m performing. It was a real performance that had never been captured before.” Anyone who’s ever seen her live knows how absorbed she gets on stage and these sessions put her in that same place. She continues, “There’s New York aggressiveness and passion. I get to a fever pitch. I’m gone. I’m not even there anymore. Something else takes over.”
Mathus dug deep into the Mississippi and Memphis soul bags, unearthing “Flying Sweet Angel of Joy” by Famous L. Renfroe, a song with which Smith particularly connected. “I believe in guardian angels. Jimbo picked up on that. I feel that I was giving voice for Famous L. because he never really got a chance.” Mathus also picked Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing,” which simmers with Memphis heat.
The raucous soul-rock of “Man Child,” the spare funk of “Shackles & Chains,” and Blaxsploitation soundtrack feel of “Durty Hustlin’” were all written or co-written by Mathus specifically for Smith. She gets rough, wrestling the title track to the ground; the song captures the late nights and lack of sleep inherent in a musician’s life. First-call Memphis horn players Marc Franklin (Robert Cray, Lucero) and Kirk Smothers (Don Bryant, Melissa Etheridge, Cyndi Lauper, Buddy Guy) were summoned to complete the album’s sound.
Off Manette Street, Soho
Venue Information:The Bordeline venue is at Orange Yard; Off Manette Street, London, W1D 4JB. Manette Street is off Charing Cross Road, just south of Tottenham Court Road tube station. Foyle’s bookshop is on the corner.
The venue operates a Challenge 21 policy for all persons entering the premises or purchasing alcohol. To avoid disappointment, please bring valid photographic proof of age with you to ensure entry. PASS scheme cards, Drivers license and Passports are all valid forms of proof of age.
Shows are 14+, under 16s must be accompanied by an adult, proof of age upon request regardless of advance ticket purchase.
All club nights are 18+, proof of age upon request regardless of advance ticket purchase.
For accessibility information please contact the venue on 02038 717 777 or click here.
To arrange an essential companion ticket, please book a standard entry ticket and then email proof of eligibility through to email@example.com. Any of the below are accepted, in addition we will review an application without these forms of evidence on a case-by-case basis.
• Front page of DLA / PIP
• Front page of Attendance Allowance letter
• Evidence that registered severely sight impaired
• Recognised Assistance Dog ID card
• Access Card
Once your request has been received and approved we will email you back with further information as to how your essential companion ticket will be issued