Beth Patterson is a  musician from the US who combines traditional Irish, Celtic and folk ballads with Cajun,  world-beat and progressive rock.
Beth Patterson is a musician from the US who combines traditional Irish, Celtic and folk ballads with Cajun, world-beat and progressive rock. Roger Stephenson

US musician Beth Patterson set to play in Nimbin

BETH Patterson is an Irish folk and Celtic musician from the US.

Combining traditional Irish, Celtic and folk ballads with Cajun, world-beat and progressive rock influences, as well as her own creative songwriting and a unique sense of humour, Patterson has developed a very personal style of music.

A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Patterson began her professional career in her teens as a classical oboist and a Cajun bass player.

She spent a year studying traditional Irish music and ethnomusicology at University College Cork in Ireland, where she began to experiment with musical fusion.

She later finished her bachelor’s degree in music therapy from Loyola University New Orleans.

Currently, her preferred instrument is the Irish bouzouki, a tear-shaped eight-string instrument of Greek origin that became popular in Irish music in the 1960s.

She plays a 10-string version as well.

We had a chat to Patterson ahead of her Northern Rivers performances.

What can people expect from your shows in Nimbin and Ballina?

Expect the unexpected, I suppose. Songs are a mixed bag of original, Celtic and Cajun numbers, but I play every night by ear and add a dash of spontaneous absurdity.

How did your musicology studies in Ireland shape the artist you are today?

It not only was an enriching musical experience, but it also expanded my world view.

In learning about the music of west Africa, north and south India and Indonesia, it was necessary to learn about each area’s customs, beliefs and traditions.

And of course it got me thinking outside the musical box, especially when I returned and began making albums of my own.

How many instruments can you play and how many do you currently play on stage?

I mostly just play the Irish bouzouki, which is an adaptation of a Greek instrument, basically an octave below a mandolin.

For this particular tour, I’m travelling so hard that it will be a one-woman, one-bouzouki show, so I have to channel all of my energy into this relatively minimalistic act.

Your song’s lyrics are also powerful and strong. Is there any particular song with an interesting background story you can share with us?

I wrote a song called Take Some Fire while finishing my music therapy degree.

The song is about finding inner strength, and subtle lyrical symbols are woven in as a tribute to my amazing colleagues, all of whom had overcome their own horrifying obstacles.

At the Nimbin Hotel, 53 Cullen St, Nimbin, on Thursday, February 4, and at the Ballina RSL Club on Saturday, February 6; both shows at 6.30pm.



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