New York City’s The Scooches are a collective that expands and contracts, sometimes playing with as many as 8 members, and often playing as a duo, trio, or quartet, with Betina Hershey (songwriter, guitar, vocals) and Nick Russo (fretted instruments) being the core duo.
Playing an eclectic mix of country, bluegrass, western swing, rockabilly, blues, traditional jazz, dixieland, old-time music, folk, roots music & Americana.
Nick Russo (guitar/banjo/resonator/composer)
Leading the charge as bandleader and composer, Russo plays guitar, banjo, and resonator and has appeared on “Good Morning America,” the Sam Mendes film, Away We Go, and was a sideman with the greats - Jimmy McGriff, Teddy Charles and Sonny Dallas. Russo had the honor of jamming with Sir Paul McCartney, while performing at Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s home, and regularly accompanies Antonique Smith, and Jon Batiste while also performing for actor/comedian/composer, Jim Dale, in Jon Weber’s band.
Betina Hershey (voice/guitar/composer)
Appearing as principle dancer in featured films Disney's Enchanted and Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts, Hershey has performed on national and international tours for the past two decades, including Broadway shows such as West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, The Fantasticks and Pump Boys & Dinettes.
As a songwriter, Hershey has performed live on WFUV, played with Fast Folk at The Bottom Line, C-Note, workshopped songs at Jack Hardy’s Monday night gatherings and BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop.
Betina directs Garden Players, her own music theatre program for children and young adults in Forest Hills, NY. She writes an original musical every year, published by Beat By Beat Press, and performed all over the world.
Miles Griffith (vocals)
Having performed with Max Roach, Reggie Workman, T.S. Monk, Barry Harris, Paul Simon, and others; Griffith played the lead role in Wynton Marsalis' jazz oratorio ''Blood On The Fields,'' which premiered at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall.
Harvey Wirht (drums/percussion)
Wirht has performed alongside Grammy Award artist Angelique Kidjo, appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, the NAACP awards, Good Morning America, and the Peace Ball for the Inauguration of President Obama. He has also performed at the Kora Awards with Best East African Artist Winner, Eric Wainaina and Lionel Loueke. He tours internationally with renowned world music artists, and with his own musical projects.
Likely the only band today infusing elements of Gullah-Geechee and world rhythms with folk traditions, Americana, New Orleans influences, and 1920s jazz, The Scooches' sophomore album, Get Us Out Of Fearland, built upon the multicultural exuberance that made the band’s debut, Very Next Thing, a transcendent breath of fresh air. Elmore Magazine championed its “remarkable musical dexterity with songs that bask in a genuine roots regimen and a sense of timeless tradition,” and revered tastemaker station WFUV said, “This is a band that must be heard to be believed!"
"These powerful and strong influences for our band bring spiritual energy to our shows," says co-founder/musician Nick Russo. "My musical life has always been surrounded by an eclectic combination of unique musicians and scenes. So naturally, this band is a melting pot of many different cultures, genres, instruments, and sounds. My dream is that people of all races and origins live, play, and share all our different world musics and cultures together as one united race, without fear — one love!”
Although the band’s debut featured an “unfailingly high-spirited” mix of traditional fare culled from various cultures, the new nine-track opus showcases mostly original material. The one cover included is a lively rendition of “A Hundred Miles," the rollicking fiddle-fueled train tune from the 1800s. The other eight songs were penned by vocalist Betina Hershey, who says, “Songs are always pouring out of me. Some I catch, and some slip out past my lips and float away. With the help of a cast of music mates, these songs linger so beautifully, with textures that I hadn’t even imagined.”
Highlights of Get Us Out Of Fearland include the playful 1920s verve of “I Don’t Need No Glasses,” the warm lilting embrace of “I Wish The World Knew Why,” the organ-driven, gospel-tinged “Dandelion” (featuring special guest vocalists, Stephanie Rice and Charenee Wade), and “Soar,” an inspirational song filled with optimism, determination, and perseverance.
These qualities sail skyward throughout the 25-minute journey, but none more so than on the boisterous groundbreaking title track, which features improvisational vocalist Miles Griffith, known for his work with Wynton Marsalis, Max Roach, Paul Simon, and Reggie Workman, and percussionist/vocalist, Dr. David Pleasant, a singular talent who has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Cecil Taylor, and Paul Simon.
“Unfailingly high-spirited.” London Times
“Hotter-than-hot and oh-so-hip.” The Classical Arts
"This is a band that must be heard to be believed!” WFUV
"Americana music at its purest and most impressive." No Depression
“It's unlike anything most listeners will find elsewhere.” San Diego Troubadour