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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Betty, with Gloria Steinem, ends a sorry year on a positive note at City Winery

Betty's "Dreidel Jingle Fiasco" mashup

“Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, you’re thrown headfirst into the holiday season!” Betty’s Amy Ziff declared at the start of the progressive feminist-pop trio’s annual holiday show at City Winery (Dec. 11), this year held over for a second show the following night.

“Last year we were all in shock at what happened to our country,” Ziff continued. “Now we’ve settled into a pleasant state of world despair. But if you come to Betty’s holiday show seeking solace and cheer, you’re out of luck!”

Not really, as Betty’s 2017 once again provided shelter from the storm, if only for the evening.

Much of the repertoire, of course, came from the group’s 2004 Snowbiz album, with Ziff, her sister Elizabeth Ziff and Alyson Palmer taking the stage to the tune of its “Space Age Solstice” and garbed, per the lyrics, in ridiculous white hooded decontamination suits. But the lyrics also proclaim that “women rule the world,” and Betty, at least, most certainly did for the next hour-plus set.

Also from Snowbiz were “Holiday Office Party,” here given a timely lyric addition of a male co-worker’s crude comment to a woman, followed by her “hashtag me too” response; the “Dreidel Jingle Fiasco” mashup of “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “Jingle Bells”; “Miracles Can Happen” (imaginatively mashed up with Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing”) and the decidedly joyless “Xmas Ain’t Coming This Year.”

Even less festive, from Betty’s lastest album Betty on the Rocks, was “Remarkable (for Anne)”--Anne being Anne Frank--the song dedicated to immigrants and all people working on their behalf. As Elizabeth noted before kicking it into high gear, “We’re all immigrants unless we're Native American--so get f**king over it!”

"Remarkable (For Anne)"

Betty’s Christmas shows always feature guests, and at this one, self-described “really dark, depressing violin-and-piano duo” Gracie & Rachel offered a holiday choral arrangement to their favorite rap song “Gucci Gucci” that gave Kreayshawn’s holiday-relevant ode to spending money a fabulous medieval-like chant. Also guesting was Nuyorican songstress Sophia Ramos, whose powerhouse vocal on a female-centered reworking of “Little Drummer Boy” (“I am a strong girl, too” replacing “poor boy”) gave it a whole new meaning.

But the marquis guest, in keeping with Betty holiday show tradition, was Gloria Steinem. After Amy’s loving intro, the cultural icon, acknowledging that she’s “been humiliating myself for them for years" by reciting lists like “Top 10 Reasons Why Jesus is a Nicer Guy Than You Think” and “Top 10 Places to Occupy,” proceeded to reveal the “10 Biggest Gifts” of the season, starting with President Trump’s popularity already registering lower, with Republicans, than when Nixon was impeached. Also, Trump is experiencing his fastest decline in popularity among white women, Steinem said.

But the biggest gift, she said, in reference to the year-end glut of high profile sexual harassment cases, is that “for the first time in my lifetime, women are being believed.”

“That makes me feel so much better,” said Amy, sincerely, after Steinem’s relatively upbeat close. Betty then closed the show with an a cappella rendition of “What the World Needs Now is Love.”



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