According to Simone de Beauvoir, “One is not born a woman, but becomes one.” If the French philosopher could have witnessed Izzy Cox and Betsy Badwater set fire to the souls inside of The Handlebar, she would have added that a woman can also “raise some hell!” J.P. Sartre be damned.

For those inside of The Handlebar this night, there was no exit, only the release. A release and a chance to experience their world through their eyes and music. With existence comes experience (n: the conscious events that make up an individual life (v: to learn by experience) and the experience often presses onto a person knowledge that others will not know. The push/pull stories of oppression, pain, joy, love, betrayal, friendship…life wrapped in a gift that is recognized by many eyes, but few will open and even fewer willing to share.

The beauty lies in the ability to share the experience(s). The willingness to rip out your eyes, your being, all of the parts that equal a person and bare it for a world that will either mock, destroy, or embrace the(ir) (words) work. The artist’s gamble. To share. To give. To hold on. To let go. Evolving, changing and growing. In daring and in chance, Betsy Badwater and Lang Hollowman continue to grow and build on their music, never fearing to explore and experiment.

This night’s set included Joey Harrison on bass, Brian Vogal on trumpet and Jeremy King Cole on drums. When asked what else is around the corner for the hard-working group, Ms. Badwater shared her excitement, enthusiasm and the gracious reverence that is on full-display every time she hits the stage.

“We’ll be doing a hot and hard quickie set (35 minutes) to close the show at Vinyl on May 12 in support of Missouri boys, The Architects, and we’re super stoked that we also get to play with Cockfight and the reunion of American Suicide! It’s going to be a ROCK show, baby! Our next big gig will be a full 85 minute set on a package show with Chris Thomas King at Vinyl on Saturday June 25. We really hope everybody can come out. We intend to have a really powerful tight presentation, including more new songs and even richer instrumentation.”

Reflecting on to their show with Izzy Cox and Cody Ruth (who is playing upright bass for Cox on her current tour) Badwater added,

“I love Izzy Cox so much. She is a remarkably passionate musician and a sweet hearted woman. We played with that good ole Mississippi Boy Cody Ruth at Blazzues earlier in the season with our friend Ramblin’ Steve Gardner. I cant wait wait to play and visit with all three of them again. Who knows what will happen in August when Steve gets back from Japan.”

Strong like Patsy Cline, as raw as Merle Haggard/Lydia Lunch and as compellingly torn and complex as Peggy Lee/Mary J. Blige, Izzy Cox took to the stage with Ruth and proceeded to take it to the crowd. Proudly declaring herself as an “Americana outlaw steam punk artist,” Cox bathed her audience in a river of dynamic states, from loud rejoicing to quiet whispers of reflection.

At one point during her set, Cox introduced the story of serial killer Belle Gunness who inspired her song by the same name. In the middle of her story, a person in the crowd, who may have had the most innocent of intentions, began an impromptu Q and A of Ms. Cox regarding Ms. Belle. Without grandeur or disgust, Ms. Cox greeted the brief interruption with soft elegance, completely answered each inquiry and then quickly proceeded to rock apart the place. Proving that even the most raucous of spirits can have a patient and kind heart. Jump out the grave adjacent to your lover, leave his dying letters unedited and join the party. Ms. Simone de Beauvoir be blessed.

-Michael L. Smith