The Bouncing Betty performs at Zachary's "St. Patty's Pawty" benefit concert earlier this year. Band members, from left, Robert Staggers on drums, Caitlin Kendrick on vocals, Mike Chain on bass, David Taylor on lead guitar and Mark Ellis on rhythm guitar are slated to perform Thursday at the Columbus Sounds of Summer concert series. Photo by: Courtesy photo
July 25, 2018 10:26:08 AM
The Bouncing Betty had finally settled on a member lineup early last year when the band's lead singer suddenly died after a performance.
"On March 11, 2017, we did a wedding reception ... at the Columbus country club," said the band's rhythm guitarist Mark Ellis. "And as we were loading our equipment after the gig, Hayden Allen, our lead singer, fell dead at 30 years old."
"The Betties" mourned the loss of their frontman, refusing to book gigs for nearly six months following Allen's premature passing.
"We definitely struggled for a while," Ellis said.
But in September 2017, the band got its mojo back.
That's when 25-year-old Caitlin Kendrick stepped on the scene as The Betties' new lead singer. With a new lead singer and a revived sense of self, The Bouncy Betty is expected to close out the 11th annual Sounds of Summer concert series Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at the Columbus Riverwalk.
Kendrick first heard of The Bouncing Betty through her sister-in-law, who worked for Ellis -- a radiologist with Columbus-based Golden Triangle Radiology.
"(My sister-in-law) knew that they had finally let that time of mourning go by and were looking for a new singer," Kendrick said. "They had a few people rotating in and out, but nothing had quite worked ... so she told (Ellis) about me. I hadn't been in a band in a couple years, but he called me and I was open to trying it out."
Kendrick said they "just kind of clicked."
Kendrick brings what Ellis called a "more alternative edge" to the band's 80s and 90s rock sound, rounding out the five-member group, which includes Robert Staggers on drums, Mike Chain on bass and David Taylor on lead guitar.
"We're very stable finally," Ellis said. "We've got a great thing going."
Ellis said the current group has been rehearsing together for months with an updated set list.
"When we came back on the scene, I think it was a little shocking for everyone that a girl was now singing," Kendrick said. "We had to do a lot with the set list. There were a lot of things I couldn't do or that wouldn't feel right for me to do."
She said the band mostly covers rock songs. The Betties like to bring a "party vibe," she added, "something people can dance to."
Kendrick, who now lives in Oxford, commutes to Columbus every Sunday for rehearsals. Those rehearsals take place in Ellis' studio in the Golden Triangle Radiology billing office.
"We expect to surprise people with the quality of sound," Ellis said. "We try to reproduce sound-wise what you're hearing on the record player."
Ellis and Staggers started The Bouncy Betty in 2015, in part because they wanted to encourage live music in Columbus, Ellis said. They try to keep shows local and community focused.
"Along the way, we've played private gigs and weddings," Ellis said. "But Robert and I wanted this band to be community oriented. We love doing community gigs like Sounds of Summer. We did a gig with the arts council one time. We also love doing charity work."
Ellis said it took the original band members nearly two months in 2015 to decide on a band name.
"Bouncing Betty was a land mine used by the Germans in World War II," he said. "When you stepped on it, it would pop up in the air and blow your face off ... so in a sense, I guess we want to be explosive and really get your attention."
1. Russian-roulette-style game claims New Hope man's life COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Affidavit: Catholic priest covered up HIV diagnosis, misused donations STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
5. City faces lawsuit from bystander injured in officer-involved shooting COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY