Betsy coaxes stories from the depths of her cello, and gifts them to her listeners as a rich musical experience. Her songs inspire feelings that are tender, mournful, contented, intensely fierce, excitedly joyful, calming, or silly — sometimes several of these in the same song! Betsy’s cello speaks, and we see mice dancing, whales breaching, snow falling, elephants dreaming, dragons pining for the moon, and wyverns enjoying a delightful vintage. She weaves tales of puppies zooming joyfully across the yard, cats chasing moths on the kitchen table, and mysterious drummers who capture our imagination. She will transport you to places you hadn’t dreamed could exist and won’t want to leave.
Betsy hails from the green and gorgeous Pacific Northwest region of the USA, where she and her family share the home with menageries of musical instruments and animals (and new musical animals that occasionally sneak in by way of the recording studio).
(Bio written by Sunnie Larsen for the UK Filk Convention 2018)
More About Betsy
(a more traditional bio)
Betsy Tinney is a Northwest cellist known both for her broad versatility and her graceful musicality. She has performed and recorded with many different groups, from solo acoustic performers to large rock bands; her contributions to each are unique and, as she explains, “whatever the song wants.” Betsy also performs solo, using a combination of acoustic cello and electronic looper that creates an interwoven tapestry of sound. Her solo cello work has been called “captivating,” “mesmerizing,” and “a rich texture for the ear, reminiscent of dark chocolate and fine red wine.” (Betsy’s approach to the looper is much more straightforward: “Hey, it can get lonely up here. The looper lets me perform with as many other cellists as I want. Besides, it takes up a lot less room and doesn’t eat as much.”)
Betsy has had a lifelong love affair with the cello. At the tender age of five, she attended a Carnegie Hall performance by Jacqueline DuPre, and was completely captivated. However, when finally allowed to begin music lessons, she spent a long year of purgatory behind a violin. (Her very conservative teacher felt that the cello was “unladylike” and therefore inappropriate for little girls.) Baffled and frustrated, Betsy simply played the hated violin as if it were a cello, until he finally gave in — though that took nearly a year. (Stubbornness does occasionally have its reward.) After graduating from Wellesley College with a B.A. in music, she took an abrupt left turn, ending up in the burgeoning high-tech sector as a tech writer and user interface designer (a much more secure and lucrative position than playing in a pit orchestra). In 1997, after 16 years and too many 16-hour days, Betsy left Microsoft to devote herself full time to her music and her family.
Betsy is a founding member of the well-loved folk trio Tricky Pixie and the improv trio Menage a Trio. She performs regularly (at least, she did back in the Before Times) with S.J. Tucker, Vixy and Tony and Alexander James Adams. In addition, Betsy has performed and/or recorded with Leslie Hudson, Jeff & Maya Bohnhoff, Dr. Mary Crowell, Nathaniel Johnstone, Seanan McGuire, Ginger Doss, Marian Call, Ronnda Cadle, Amy McNally, Mama Gina, Molly Lewis, Wendy Rule, Celia, Cade Tinney, Incus, Leannan Sidhe, Gaia Consort, Bone Poets, and many, many others.
Betsy was privileged to be the International Guest of Honor at the 2018 UK filk music convention. As a member of Tricky Pixie, Betsy was a Special Guest at WorldCon 2011 in Reno, and has also been a musical guest-of-honor (usually with Tricky Pixie or with SJ Tucker) at many other cons. She has multiple Pegasus nominations to her credit, and was the recipient of the 2012 Pegasus Award for Best Performer.
She also teaches and does session work, and is an active member of the New Directions Cello Association, a worldwide association dedicated to nonclassical forms of cello playing.
When not behind a cello, Betsy is a web designer/developer, visual artist and calligrapher, and part-time pixie.