BettySoo and Doug Cox
Where: Victoria Event Centre
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $24 at Ditch Records, Lyle's Place and brownpapertickets.com
Mention "Betty Sue" and "Texas" in the same sentence and a certain mental image pops up.
Cowboy boots, certainly. And, just maybe, a red-checked shirt tied at the waist.
This singer-songwriter is indeed from Texas - Austin to be exact.
However, the Betty Sue in question is actually BettySoo. (Her stage name combines her first and middle names; she keeps her last name secret). And she's of Korean-American descent.
On Saturday night, BettySoo teams up with Cumberland's Doug Cox for a duo show at the Victoria Event Centre.
Cox is a Juno Award-nominated dobro guitarist who is also artistic director of the Vancouver Island Music Festival in Courtenay.
The partnership has been Cox's main musical venture for the past two years. In 2011, the pair toured for eight months through Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
In Victoria, BettySoo and Cox will interpret folk/roots music by songwriters such as Betty Elders, Doug Sahm, Loudon Wainwright III and Woody Guthrie.
BettySoo, a crystalline-voiced soprano, embraces a style as down-home as any Texas singer, while Cox's slide guitar wraps each song with serpentine grace.
Asked recently if there are many singer-songwriters of Korean descent in Texas, BettySoo laughed. The subject does tend to surface in interviews.
"I don't believe many people think there are a lot anywhere," she said.
Since dropping out of graduate school and ditching plans to be a teacher, BettySoo has achieved tangible success in her eight years as a pro musician.
In 2008, she was named Kerrville New Folk winner at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas.
As well as a pair of solo recordings, BettySoo has cut two albums with Co Across the Borderline: Lie to Me and this year, Across the Borderline: More Lies.
Her parents, who emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1970s from Korea, are doctors who operate a Medicare clinic.
BettySoo, one of four daughters, grew up in the town of Spring, Texas, near Houston. In her family, hard work and discipline were the order of the day. Her father encouraged her to strive three times as hard as anyone else.
While the focus was on academic achievement, music was also a big part of the household. BettySoo and her sisters sang at church.
She started piano lessons at age five, and also studied the oboe, flute and violin. By high school, BettySoo was listening to roots-country artists such as Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith and Shawn Mullins.
She met Cox just two years ago, when the pair taught at Acoustic Alaska Guitar Camp in Wasilla.
They found they had a shared love for the same artists - folks such as Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Doug Sahm who, while highly regarded, are not household names.
"We became pretty quick friends that way," BettySoo said.
Cox immediately clicked with her musically during camp jam sessions.
"I'm truly moved by BettySoo's singing and her guitar playing," he said. "She's one of the finest rhythm players I've ever worked with. And that makes me play a certain way."
BettySoo says their ability to get along off the stage as well as on is helpful during long tours.
"It's great to find people you like playing with and you can sit with in a car for hours," she said.
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