Electronic Press Kit

Beth Bell † Music Bio (2016)
Beth Bell’s (aka BeTh isBell) journey to become the rocker she is today hasn’t - by any means - taken a traditional musician’s path to artistic fruition. Beth, born as a young boy named Bill in Columbus, GA, grew up in the US and Europe through school, college and law school as boy, and then practiced civil rights law for years as a man. After being diagnosed as transgender, Isbell began transitioning and is now, after surgery, a woman. After her transition, she experienced hiring discrimination in returning to law, and at the time, there were no legal protections for trans persons, so she decided to return to college to pursue a new career in music & the arts.
She auditioned and was admitted to prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, but chose instead to attend Oklahoma’s Flaming Lips’ run Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma (ACM@UCO), graduating with the school’s first class of bachelor’s degree candidates in Spring 2013.  An accomplished musician with a library of diverse yet equally compelling recordings, Beth’s gift as a songwriter and infectious live performances mix elements of both genders, all while maintaining, at the core, a magical soul and mastery of craft capable of inspiring the hope within all of us to be who you truly are and become our dreams.

Beth’s musical journey began in the late 90s, after a divorce, as she was winding down her career as a civil rights attorney and beginning her journey to cross the gender divide. She fell in love with music, singing songs around campfires with talented songwriter and guitarist friends. Infused with these folk influences, the first country song she ever wrote, “The Good Woman Waltz” became the title cut of her first CD, originally released under the name Bill Isbell, and the #1 song in the Texas Top 40 for original songwriters. Simultaneously, she began furiously writing punk rock songs and released The Flying Lennys EP a punk-pop collection that featured a special guest appearance by one of her close friends, neighbor, and musical mentors, Jazz legend Joe McBride.

Living as a women in a man’s body was not an easy evolution; Beth was thrown out of clubs and banned from playing some of her favorite venues as her soul and body transitioned. But, she persevered. During this trying period, she focused on song writing and improving her performance skills as the front person for Dallas psychedelic blues rock band - and underground critic darlings - The Dead Prophets. Beth’s prolific songwriting continued and she placed in several national songwriting competitions and went on to release a number of EPs spanning genres including coffee-house style folk-rock, acoustic rock, and electric blues [“Live @ Blue Moon” (B. Isbell), “The Awakening” (B. Isbell), “Aardvark” (Beth Isbell) and “This Is The Blues!” (Beth Isbell)].

In September 2014, Beth and her band alternative psychedelic rock band BeThisBell (aka BeTh isBell), a collection of good friends from music college (ACM@UCO) released “We Are The Gods!” - a full-length psychedelic-grunge-punk-glam rock album, produced by Trent Bell (Chainsaw Kittens).  The band issued a 5 song follow up EP "Work It Out" in April 2015, with Trent Bell again producing. Beth was the main songwriter for both releases. As a result, BeThisBell was invited and performed at the 2015 CMJ Music Marathon in NYC.

Beth currently lives in Humboldt County, CA, on the gorgeous North Coast of California, about 4 hours North of San Francisco, where she DJs the popular Flower Power Hour psychedelic rock radio show for local station KMUD FM, as well as co-hosting the station’s Friday drive-time new releases show Musical Possibilities.  Beth works with developmentally challenged adults during her day job, even occasionally getting to put her musical skills to use to teach and entertain the facility’s disabled clients. “It’s very rewarding, but challenging, work.”

In December 2015, Beth released a 4 song EP “2015” under her new stage name “Beth Bell”, a nickname given to her by local Humboldt guitar legend Jimmy Jeff (Robinson), with three new songs recorded in Humboldt by producer Jimmy Foot (Bongo Boy Studio), and orchestrated pop song “Love Tonight” recorded ACM@UCO.

In February 2016, Beth Bell officially released a 6 song EP “Shine On!” featuring some of the opening and closing songs from her three most recent official releases.  The new EP kicks off with contemplative Work It Out, the Bowie-esque We Are The Gods!, and this EP’s powerful title cut Shine On!. The EP rounds out with the inspiring In This Moment, recent single “Love Sublime” – a message to her twins and the LGBT community, and the heavily pop-orchestrated “Love Tonight.”  Six very uplifting mainstream rock songs intended to inspire.  And devoid of drug references and F-word filled grunge punk rants, lol.

Beth and her new and old bandmates have begun work with Trent Bell on their next full length full band Beth Bell debut album “Sun King” which includes some new, sonically different, tracks featuring local keyboardist Holly Moorad. The new Beth Bell “Sun King” album is expected to be completed and available later this year.

 

RECENT PRESS ARTICLE ABOUT BETH, PUBLISHED IN THE MAD RIVER UNION NEWSPAPER, ARCATA, CA ON AUG. 31, 2016

 

A Bell Rings In Humboldt
Janine Volkmar
Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT, CA – Author, musician, hostess, caregiver, DJ and former attorney Beth Isbell needs more hours in the day.

She has worked all day at her job for HCAR, helping developmentally challenged adults move into the world that seems easy to navigate for most of us. She’s passionate about that job because her civil rights law background helped her to see the larger picture of disability rights.

“When I was a lawyer, the biggest part of my practice was representing disabled clients. You just have a different lens,” she said. “It’s eye-opening to gain a different perspective.”

Now she deals with the day-to-day routines and the nitty-gritty, walking and taking the buses with her clients.

After that gig ends, she still has energy to lead the popular open mic Thursday nights at Blondies Food and Drink in Arcata. She does the sound for the whole night. “I try to make everybody sound as exceptional as I can,” she said.

Every musician gets “15 minutes or three songs,” Isbell explained. “We give them the choice of signing up for position. Not everyone wants to go first.” Sign-up is at 6:15 p.m. and the show runs from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

A recent Thursday night at Blondies was standing-room-only, with every seat in the house filled. A few of the audience members even sat on the floor. The parking lot overflowed and a large crowd stood outside as well. The place was hopping.

“It’s really the best open mic north of San Francisco,” she said. “There are so many talented college kids and young people traveling through. It never ceases to amaze me, the level of talent.”

The following night, Isbell drives to Redway where she’s the late evening DJ on KMUD. She hosts The Flower Power Hour (a psychedelic music show) every Thursday night – really early Friday morning – at 1 am. And on the first Friday of the month, she hosts KMUD’s best indie and alternative rock as well as a countdown of Musical Possibilities during drivetime from 3 to 5:30 p.m. No wonder she’s in tune with the young musicians who throng to Blondies!

She’s a natural fit at KMUD. “It’s the first station I heard when I drove into Humboldt the first time,” she explained. “The Cannabis Consciousness Hour was on and I thought, Wow! What an accepting place.”

And she finds time to write songs, edit an anthology of poetry and photographs, write her own poems, practice with other musicians, and perform at a variety of venues herself.

It’s hard to figure out where the woman finds enough hours in the day.
Maybe it’s because she is used to working “24-7 for a trial” when she was a civil rights lawyer. “My favorite part was research and writing briefs,” she said. That kind of work was intense and led to many victories for her clients. Isbell has the bragging rights to “winning more Supreme Court decisions” than most folks. Many of the cases were about age discrimination. She even won a case in which topless dancers were being discriminated against because they were considered too old.

She knows about discrimination herself. After she transitioned from male to female, her law career ended. “I used to do civil rights law,” she explained on her website, BeThisBell Art Collective. “Then I transitioned from male to female. That was a hard decision and a very costly one. I was no longer able to find a job, even among firms that specialized in civil rights law, because they feared that a jury or clients might not be as open-minded as they claimed to be. But I am who I am and like who I am...”

“Somebody in Humboldt is missing a tremendous opportunity at not hiring me to be a brief writer for them,” she said with a wry smile. (She’s not able to practice law in California until she passes the bar, which takes money and the time to study for it.) But Isbell, or Beth Bell as she’s known when she performs, keeps on moving on.

She was accepted at the prestigious Berklee College of Music but without a scholarship, so she ended up earning a bachelor’s degree from the Academy of Contemporary Music in Oklahoma in 2013.

She could add that to her resume of a bachelor’s in business management and marketing and a law degree as well.

“I have a dogged determination to stick with the music thing,” she said. “That’s why I went to music college. I was getting better but not good enough. I learned a lot about how to perform and music practice.”
Isbell, herself, has overcome a “tremendous stage fright, like panic attacks.” Music college helped her through that.

And the welcoming audiences of Humboldt have continued the process.
“I love the Humboldt audiences. They are so encouraging. That’s a huge difference from Dallas or Oklahoma. It’s soul crushing when people put you down. Out here it’s so loving and accepting.”

Isbell is talking not only about herself but about other musicians, including the young ones at Blondies. “It really helps an artist to develop and flourish,” she said.

Flourish she will, with a host of albums and EPs of her music published. The latest, Shine On!, was released in February and is essentially a compilation EP, she said, featuring the opening or closing tracks from her original full band studio album, We Are The Gods! (2013), Work It Out (2015), and the 2015 EP.

"I was trying to create something uplifting and without all the cuss words to showcase my work," she wrote. "The EP turns out to be a really nice listen and introduction.”

She’s right. The EP features some tasty guitar work and the lyrics are both clever and inspirational.

With one band, Bell played a show in New York last October. “They picked us out of a couple hundred acts,” she said.

With another band, the P.M. Band, she’ll be playing the PRIDE Festival on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. in Halvorson Park.

You can also hear her with various bands on YouTube and SoundCloud.

But for the full BeThisBell (a play on her name), catch her in person.
As she says about doing her own material, “You are putting your heart and soul out there.”

Shine on, Beth Bell!

For more info and links to Beth Isbell's many, many projects – including her space cow comedy blog – visit bethisbell.com.

LINK TO ON-LINE ARTICLE:
http://madriverunion.com/a-bell-rings-in-humboldt/


Note: Sarah Isbell is my author name. Beth Isbell is what my friends call me. My music stage & DJ name is Beth Bell. And I'm also known as BeThisBell.


The Story of the Band BeThisBell:
 
     Guitarist & vocalist BeThisBell, aka BeTh isBell, and lead guitarist Justin Hays met at ACM@UCO & formed BeThisBell in Spring 2011. Shortly thereafter Cody Fowler (who is also in the band Horse Thief) joined the band on bass and turned us on to Kellan Turner on drums. The band has played shows at various clubs and music & pride festivals Oklahoma City, OK, and Dallas, TX. After graduating from music college in 2013, BeTh and the band began recording We Are The Gods! at Bell Labs in Norman, OK, with producer Trent Bell (Chainsaw Kittens). And that essentially is the same line-up as appears on BeTh's new We Are The Gods! album, although we brought in Nick Ley of the band colourmusic in to play drums on the album. Justin & BeTh played all the rhythm guitar parts on the album, then we picked up Blaise Thompson of the bands Moon & Drainbows to join us and BeTh & Blaise finished all the lead guitar parts on the album. And right as we were finishing up the album, Holly Wood joined the band in live performances in the OKC area on keyboards & vocals. She's amazing and has perfect pitch, lol. Holly & BeTh have also played a lot of duo shows around OKC and even in LA & SF. BeThisBell recently picked up a music publishing contract with David Bowie's publisher, Essex Music Intl., Inc. on it's WATG! album & new EP.